The Limits of Unlimited Authority

When you hunt around for explanations of the Council of Trent’s anathemas on various Roman Catholic websites, you find a recurring assertion that the church cannot damn anyone to hell, only God can do that. The anathemas as such only apply to Protestant doctrines, not to Protestants themselves.

Like other excommunications, anathemas didn’t do anything to a person’s soul. It didn’t make him “damned by God” or anything like that. The only man who can make a man damned by God is the man himself. The Church has no such power. An anathema was a formal way of signaling him that he had done something gravely wrong, that he had endangered his own soul, and that he needed to repent. Anathemas, like other excommunications, were thus medicinal penalties, designed to promote healing and reconciliation.

Love the Protestant, hate Protestantism, I guess.

This explanation is odd for a couple reasons. First, if Protestants are not anathematized by Trent, is it not the case that Protestants are still schismatics, which is not a good condition for the soul since schism is a mortal sin?

Sins against Faith: 2087 Our moral life has its source in faith in God who reveals his love to us. St. Paul speaks of the “obedience of faith”9 as our first obligation. He shows that “ignorance of God” is the principle and explanation of all moral deviations.10 Our duty toward God is to believe in him and to bear witness to him. 2088 The first commandment requires us to nourish and protect our faith with prudence and vigilance, and to reject everything that is opposed to it. There are various ways of sinning against faith: Voluntary doubt about the faith disregards or refuses to hold as true what God has revealed and the Church proposes for belief. Involuntary doubt refers to hesitation in believing, difficulty in overcoming objections connected with the faith, or also anxiety aroused by its obscurity. If deliberately cultivated doubt can lead to spiritual blindness. 2089 Incredulity is the neglect of revealed truth or the willful refusal to assent to it. “Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.”

Some apologists will also tell us that we are under obligation to go to Mass if we want to go to heaven.

We may be spared Trent’s condemnations, but the very idea of no salvation outside the church and Rome’s claim that it has the power to dispense grace takes Protestants from the Council’s frying pan into Rome’s fire.

The other odd aspect of this distinction between Rome’s authority and God’s when it comes the fate of souls is that the papacy does apparently have the power to canonize saints. This implies that the church can determine who is in heaven. It even has access to a treasury of merits to liberate souls from purgatory with indulgences.

Now maybe such limits on Rome’s power truly exist. But why does it seem like a case of public relations where Roman Catholic apologists are uncomfortable with hell and try to distance themselves from anathemas but not so much with heaven and the process of canonization? Have Rome’s apologists been reading Rob Bell?

Advertisements

279 thoughts on “The Limits of Unlimited Authority

  1. Darryl,

    First, if Protestants are not anathematized by Trent, is it not the case that Protestants are still schismatics, which is not a good condition for the soul since schism is a mortal sin?

    On February 9, I explained in a comment in a previous thread the distinction between the condition of schism and the act of schism. Being in a condition of schism is not a good condition for the soul, in part because of the loss of graces available through all the sacraments Christ has established in His Church. But being in a condition of schism is not necessarily a mortal sin, for the reasons I explained in that previous comment.

    Now maybe such limits on Rome’s power truly exist. But why does it seem like a case of public relations where Roman Catholic apologists are uncomfortable with hell and try to distance themselves from anathemas but not so much with heaven and the process of canonization?

    Because you are considering it according to a hermeneutic of suspicion, rather than a hermeneutic of charity. As I explained in a comment on February 12, the Church has not been told who is in hell, but the Holy Spirit has by certain means shown the Church the identity of some saints in heaven. That has nothing to do with PR, but simply what God has chosen to reveal and not reveal to the Church.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

    Like

  2. Bryan, but you apply a hermenutic of suspicion to Protestants. Anyway, a hermeneutic of suspicion comes naturally to all who believe in the fall and its consequences. You need to read more Peter, Paul, and Augustine, and less about the dignity of the human person.

    Like

  3. Darryl,

    That stance (you are advocating) would have made it impossible to accept Peter, Paul, and Augustine in the first place, and in that respect is self-refuting.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

    Like

  4. Bryan, because you are the one who says your hermeneutic is charitable. I find it hard to believe a bright guy like yourself never seems to detect how fideistic you sound. I get it, you have the reasons why you believe you are not fideistic. But all of your responses are formulaic. You have right reason, therefore it all makes sense. Someone who doesn’t have right reason won’t get it.

    At least our Lord spoke in parables. He didn’t bludgeon us with logic.

    Like

  5. Darryl,

    because you are the one who says your hermeneutic is charitable.

    That’s a statement about my person. It does not show that my stance is “circular.”

    I find it hard to believe a bright guy like yourself never seems to detect how fideistic you sound.

    The question is not whether my position sounds fideistic, but whether it is fideistic. So far, you have no provided any reason or argument showing that it is fideistic.

    I get it, you have the reasons why you believe you are not fideistic.

    Correct.

    But all of your responses are formulaic.

    The question is not whether they are “formulaic,” but whether they are true. If they are true, then it doesn’t matter whether or not they are “formulaic.”

    You have right reason, therefore it all makes sense. Someone who doesn’t have right reason won’t get it.

    That’s not an argument I’ve ever made.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

    Like

  6. Bryan, I know why you think your position is not fideistic. But this is a difference of opinion. If you want to make a call to Benedict to resolve it, you may have trouble getting through. I hear he is going to have a busy month.

    Like

  7. Darryl,

    Bryan, I know why you think your position is not fideistic. But this is a difference of opinion.

    Whenever you have a better argument having as its conclusion that my position is fideistic, I’d be glad to look at it. So far, all you have offered is the following argument: Because I say that my stance is that of a hermeneutic of charity, therefore my stance is circular. But, as I pointed out above, that conclusion does not follow from that premise.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

    Like

  8. Bryan,

    Can you explain to us why you think your stance is not circular? Where do you think the authority of the Roman Catholic Church comes from? If you say from Christ, how do you know that?

    Like

  9. Why Roman Catholicism is Not the Solution to the Problem of Sola Scriptura – Michael Kruger’s “Canon Revisited” on the Jason Stellman, Bryan Cross Problem

    Recently there has been a dustup in the conservative Presbyterian & Reformed blogosphere over the defection of Reformed minister Jason Stellman to Roman Catholicism and the Called to Communion group of Catholic men who used to be Reformed (many of them Reformed ministers). One of the factors that apparently led to Stellman’s conversion was also a factor that led to the conversion of CTC ringleader Bryan Cross — an inability to defend the Protestant doctrine of Sola Scriptura against attack. At one point Cross apparently had some Mormons come to his door and this interaction and inability to defend the doctrine started him on the road to Rome.

    My intent in this post is not to defend Sola Scriptura, but merely to show that the Roman Catholic solution to the problem is ultimately no more satisfying than the Protestant defense of Sola Scriptura to the mind that demands absolute certainty. In future posts I hope to make the same case regarding atheists who reject theism due to this same quest for absolute certainty.

    My source for my post is pages 38-48 of Michael J. Kruger’s “Canon Revisted – Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books”. Kruger is professor of New Testament and academic dean at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, N.C.

    In the first chapter of his book Kruger explores the idea of the “Canon as Community Determined”. On page 29 Kruger defines this idea as follows: “As a general description, community-determined approaches view the canon as something that is, in some sense, established or constituted by the people – either individually or corporately – who have received these books as Scripture. Canonicity is viewed not as something inherent to any set of books, but as ‘something officially or authoritatively imposed upon certain literature.’ Thus a ‘canon’ does not exist until there is some sort of response from the community. Simply put, it is the result of actions and/or experiences of Christians.” Kruger views the Roman Catholic model as a subset of this idea of “Canon as Community Determined”.

    Kruger begins his description of the Roman Catholic model by saying, “Roman Catholicism denies that ultimate authority exists in the Scriptures alone (sola scriptura) and has consequently adopted the well-known trifold authority structure that includes Scripture, tradition, and the Magisterium (the church’s teaching authority). The key component in this trifold authority is the Magisterium itself, which is the authoritative teaching office of the Roman Catholic Church, primarily manifested in the pope and his bishops. Although the Magisterium is presented as only one of three sources of authority, it is distinguished by the fact that it alone has the right to interpret Scripture and tradition, and, more importantly, it has the sole authority to define what writings constitute Scripture and tradition in the first place.”

    He goes on: “The implications of this approach on the question of canon become immediately clear. When faced with the dilemma of how we know which books should be in or out of the canon, the Roman Catholic model claims a quite simple solution. As H.J. Adriaanse observes, ‘Catholic Theology…has solved the canon problem with a plea to the authority of the Church. Thus, the canon is ultimately community determined. The fundamental challenge from Roman Catholicism is that in order to have an infallible Scripture, we need to have an infallible guide (namely the church) to tell us what is, and what is not, Scripture.”

    The footnote for this last sentence is interesting in light of my aims: “This argument is the cornerstone for modern Roman Catholic apologetics. E.G. Scott Hahn and Kimberly Hahn, ‘Rome Sweet Home’, David Currie, ‘Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic’, Patrick Madrid, ed., ‘Surprised by Truth’”.

    Kruger goes on: “As Karl Rahner asserts, ‘[Scripture] exists because the church exists.’ Thus, it is argued, the Protestant claim of sola scriptura is inevitably hollow – you cannot have Scripture as the ultimate authority if you have no certain way of knowing what Scripture is. One needs an external source of authority, outside the Bible, in order to know what should be included in the Bible. Karl Keating declares, ‘The Catholic believes in inspiration because the Church tells him so.’ The sixteenth-century Roman Catholic cardinal Stanislaus Hosius, papal legate to the Council of Trent, put it more bluntly: ‘The Scriptures have only as much force as the fables of Aesop, if destitute of the authority of the Church.’”

    Kruger goes on to give an evaluation of all this in the next section. He begins by conceding that “the Roman Catholic model rightly captures certain aspects of canon. Indeed, the church’s historical reception of these books plays an important role in our conviction that they are from God (though there are differences in how that role is construed). Moreover the willingness of Roman Catholics to acknowledge that the canonical process is not entirely human, but involves divine activity, is a refreshing alternative to the naturalistic approach so common in the historical-critical model (which he has discussed previously). That said, a number of historical and theological concerns about the Roman Catholic model remain, which we will attempt to briefly outline here.”

    Kruger makes several good points in this section, but for now I want to focus on what he describes as “the most fundamental concern, namely, whether the Roman Catholic model, in some sense, makes the Scripture subordinate to the church. The answer to that question is revealed when we ask another question: How does the Roman Catholic Church establish its own infallible authority? If the Roman Catholic Church believes that infallible authorities (like the Scriptures) require external authentication, then to what authority does the church turn to establish the grounds for its own infallible authority? Here is where the Roman Catholic model runs into some difficulties. There are three options for how to answer this question:

    (1) the church could claim that its infallible authority is authenticated by (and derived from) the Scriptures. But this proves to be rather vicious circular reasoning. If the Scriptures cannot be known and authenticated without the authority of the church, then you cannot establish the authority of the church on the basis of the Scriptures. You cannot have it both ways. Moreover, on an exegetical level, one would be hard-pressed to find much scriptural support for an infallible church (but we cannot enter into this question here).

    (2) The church could claim that its infallible authority is authenticated by external evidence from the history of the church: the origins of the church, the character of the church, the progress of the church, and so forth. However, these are not infallible grounds by which the church’s infallibility could be established. In addition, the history of the Roman Church is not a pure one – the abuses, corruption, documented papal errors, and the like do not naturally lead one to conclude that the church is infallible regarding ‘faith and morals.’

    (3) It seems that the only option left to the Catholic model is to declare that the church’s authority is self-authenticating and needs no external authority to validate it. Or, more bluntly put, we ought to believe in the infallibility of the Roman Catholic church because it says so. The Catholic Church, then, finds itself in the awkward place of having chided the Reformers for having a self-authenticating authority (sola scriptura), when all the while it has engaged in the very same activity by setting itself up as the self-authenticating authority (sola ecclesia). On the Catholic model, the Scripture’s own claims should not be received on their own authority, but apparently the church’s own claims should be received on their own authority. The Roman Catholic Church, functionally speaking, is committed to sola ecclesia.”

    It seems that Stellman and Cross are in no more of a secure position than they were in before their conversions.

    If you are interested in learning more, here is a good discussion between Westminster Seminary California Professors W. Robert Godfrey & R. Scott Clark on “The Lure of Rome”.

    http://wscal.edu/resource-center/resource/the-lure-of-rome

    Like

  10. Erik,

    Can you explain to us why you think your stance is not circular?

    I’ve already done so in the “Wilson vs. Hitchens” article (and comments following that article), linked above.

    If you think my position or stance is circular, feel free to lay out the argument premise by premise showing it to be so.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

    Like

  11. Bryan,

    I read your piece and nowhere in it do I see you even make a case for the truth of Catholicism. All you really assert are that “ethics (is) about living according to reason, and that sin and vice (are) so because they are contrary to reason”. O.K. So what? You have a long way to go to get from those assertions to Catholicism (and all it entails) being in any sense objectively true.

    How do you think your piece pertains to you not being circular as I allege in my piece?

    Like

  12. Bryan,

    I would also note that those who argue with you here everyday primarily use reason against you. Nobody opposing you is appealing to blind faith or Scripture apart from reason.

    Like

  13. Bryan, you have invoked paradigms so many times and yet you don’t see that your paradigm prevents you from getting outside it to look and see if it is coherent or makes sense of all the relevant information. You believe that it is disloyal to the church that Christ founded to go outside that paradigm. In most people’s books, that circular reasoning. You cannot entertain an objection to your paradigm that doesn’t share your paradigm. All such reservations are illegitimate because they are of the wrong paradigm.

    You’d make a great hyper-Van Tillian.

    Like

  14. Erik,

    Thanks for the Kruger reference. There is also a great interview with him over at Reformed Forum where Canon Revisited is discussed in depth. His work on NT canon issues is superb, and presents a very cogent argument for the Protestant position on the NT canon. His blog also features some of his lectures, which are a more thorough discussion of NT canon formation and reception, addressing both critical and RC canonical arguments.

    I think it would be a great line of questioning for you to synthesize Kruger’s arguments against the RC position, and see how the CtC crew responds. I’d dive in, but I don’t have the time over the next couple of days.

    Like

  15. Erik,

    Do a series of Kruger posts at your site. I haven’t gotten to read him yet. You know in the middle of tax season. Just do it.

    Like

  16. You need to be able to sit down with someone for an afternoon who has a paradigm completely different than yours and hear them out. I did this with an atheist recently and it was a blast. I left thinking, “Wow. If this guy is right, I might just be dead and rot in the ground in a few more decades.” That Sunday, though, I went to church as usual and still have my faith, because I realized that the atheist was taking certain things on faith just as I was. The problem with arguing with Bryan is, you get the feeling he’s not willing to just lay everything out on the table and consider the possibility that he could be wrong. Until you do this, are you are selling is propaganda and most thinking people will just stop listening to you and engaging with you at some point. You’ll still win some converts, but they’re not the converts that you really want.

    Like

  17. Jed & Sean,

    Thanks for the heads-up on the interview. I need to listen to that. I need to finish Kruger’s book. I’m about half way through. It’s good stuff and now that I’ve wrapped up “Seeking a Better Country” (also very good) I think I’ll get back to it. It’s nice, because it’s not that tough of a read, but he gives you tons of footnotes if you want to go deeper. You could spend a lifetime on the stuff that he does and still have stuff to learn.

    Like

  18. Darryl,

    yet you don’t see that your paradigm prevents you from getting outside it to look and see if it is coherent or makes sense of all the relevant information.

    Assertions are very easy, but establish nothing. If you think the Catholic paradigm is not “coherent,” then you need to lay out the Catholic claims that you think do not cohere. And if you think the Catholic paradigm does not make sense of all the relevant information, then you’ll need to specify the relevant information that doesn’t make sense in the Catholic paradigm.

    You believe that it is disloyal to the church that Christ founded to go outside that paradigm. In most people’s books, that circular reasoning.

    There is more than one way to “go outside” a paradigm. One way is to abandon the paradigm and embrace another paradigm. Another way is to allow oneself to see the evidence through other paradigms. I do not believe it is disloyal to the Church to do the latter, and in fact do so frequently. And I’ve found no good reason to do the former. So, no, I do not engage in circular reasoning.

    <blockquote You cannot entertain an objection to your paradigm that doesn’t share your paradigm. All such reservations are illegitimate because they are of the wrong paradigm.

    If you think that’s what I believe, then no wonder you think I’m a fideist. Yes, using paradigm-specific standards in evaluating other paradigms is question-begging. But, that does not mean that paradigms cannot be compared or should not be compared. I provided an example of comparing paradigms in comment #185 of the “Your Own Private Interpretation” thread on Green Baggins.

    Ok, off to celebrate a beheaded Catholic Saint with my wife!

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

    Like

  19. Bryan,

    It’s not hard to establish the circularity of your position.

    (1) The RCC is the Church that Christ founded.
    (2) We know this by trusting in the Motives of Credibility,
    (3) Which includes Jesus’ promise to Peter that the Church was founded upon him and the gates of Hell would not prevail against it,
    (4) And we know that Jesus did in fact promise this because it is recorded in the Scripture
    (4a) And we know that Jesus meant (1) by (3) because the Church has so interpreted it,
    (5) And we know which works are Scriptural because the Church tells us the canon,
    (6) And we know that the Church has the authority to determine the canon because it is the Church that Christ founded.

    Without knowing (3) (in the sense that your skeptical arguments against Protestantism demand “knowing”), you have no way to know whether the church might be fallible, OR whether the church requires any sort of apostolic succession.
    But without knowing (5), you have no way to know whether Matt 16 might not be a later gloss, or whether Matthew is a spurious work entirely.
    But without knowing (6), you have no way to know (5), and the rest falls apart OR comes full circle.

    Further, without (4a) you have know way to know whether you have properly interpreted Matt 16.

    The circularity can be removed only by finding grounds *other than the infallible teaching authority of the Church* to identify Matt 16 as Scripture and to interpret its meaning.

    Like

  20. DGH: You cannot entertain an objection to your paradigm that doesn’t share your paradigm. All such reservations are illegitimate because they are of the wrong paradigm.

    BC: If you think that’s what I believe, then no wonder you think I’m a fideist.

    That is in fact how you speak to us. “Paradigm” is used as a trump card.

    Like

  21. Jeff mentions “The Motives of Credibility”. It’s hard to even figure out what Catholics mean by this without having to wade through pages & pages (I see an ongoing theme here…) but basically, I think the term means that the church is self-authenticated by the miracles it performs. Now think about this for a minute. As Reformed protestants we believe that Jesus and the Apostles authenticated their ministry through miracles, but most of us believe that these miracles ceased after the apostolic age. Rome, however, believes that they have an infallible ruler, the Pope, as the head of their church up until the present. If miracles established the truth of Catholicism in the beginning, why do we not continue to see such miracles in the Roman Catholic Church today? And if Rome is a miracle-working church, why has it also been at times throughout history a corrupt church as well? We don’t see the miracles that are evident to all, but we do see corruption that is evident to all (the priest sex abuse scandal being the latest). In addition, what are the miracles that the early Roman Catholic Church (after the apostles) allegedly performed? What is the source for our knowledge about them? If it is the church itself, how can we accept this testimony as credible without corroboration?

    Like

  22. After a point all of the “paradigm” talk is just a smoke screen. It’s like saying, “I speak English and you speak French so there is no way we can agree on what reality is.” Reality exists regardless of the language we use to describe it. That’s why we have translators. We need to get beyond smokescreens to our differing concepts of reality and lay our cards on the table. Bryan seems unwilling to do this whenever he encounters an argument he can’t answer.

    Like

  23. Jeff,

    It’s not hard to establish the circularity of your position.

    Let’s see if that’s so.

    (1) The RCC is the Church that Christ founded.
    (2) We know this by trusting in the Motives of Credibility,
    (3) Which includes Jesus’ promise to Peter that the Church was founded upon him and the gates of Hell would not prevail against it,
    (4) And we know that Jesus did in fact promise this because it is recorded in the Scripture
    (4a) And we know that Jesus meant (1) by (3) because the Church has so interpreted it,
    (5) And we know which works are Scriptural because the Church tells us the canon,
    (6) And we know that the Church has the authority to determine the canon because it is the Church that Christ founded.

    Number (3) is not among the motives of credibility. That is, the doctrine that Christ founded the Church on Peter is not a motive of credibility. So the circle you have presented does not accurately represent the Catholic position regarding the relation of the motives of credibility to the content of the faith.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

    Like

  24. Bryan Cross says; if one’s whole epistemic edifice is built upon a mere leap-in-the-dark assumption, as Wilson’s is, then since nothing can be any more certain than that upon which it rests, one still does not get any certainty.

    Number one, didn’t Jesus command his people to build our life on the Rock of God’s Word? And if we do, is that a mere leap-in-the-dark assumption?

    What is your epistemology? What is your faith founded on, if not God’s Word?

    Like

  25. Bryan says:

    I provided an example of comparing paradigms in comment #185 of the “Your Own Private Interpretation” thread on Green Baggins.

    Nope.
    Rather you illustrated exactly what you told us we were not to do, interpret the paradigm from outside rather from the inside in light of its own rules/presuppositions.

    I think the common argument typically made by Protestants who become Catholic is not so simple. There are messes in the Catholic Church as well, and everyone is aware of them.

    No, the scandals regarding finances and ordained homosexuals preying on the youth of the church went right to the infallible top officer who went along with the coverups.

    But the Protestant experiment indicates that Scripture alone, apart from an authorized interpreter, is not divinely designed to effect this unity.

    Nope. Your paradigm insists on an infallible interpreter, protestantism does not. And you did the same thing i.e begged the question, with Lane regarding church courts and confessions in Sola Versus Sola Scriptura Revisted. IOW if there is no infallible interpreter in protestantism that compares to the magisterium, all you can see is anabaptist performative mormons running around with burning bosoms. This is no more than an inveterate obstinacy to follow your own rules, which you are so forward to keep reminding us every time you show up in the combox on a new thread.
    IOW if the patronizing papists would police themselves, we might get somewhere in the conversation.

    But they can’t and they won’t, because it is a paradigm thing. So we get stuck in the loop and Bryan shows up to sporadically lecture us on the advantages of Romanism.
    Evangelism by erosion. Performatively pester them till they are ready to say anything just to have some peace and quiet. Assertions performatively become arguments as above, just by being repeated ad nauseum.

    But according to the American performative version of Rome, all we need to do is go to the local stake on Sunday, instead of a branch office for the Vatican. Utah’s got infallible apostles instead of popes, the book of Mormon instead of the [lost] apostolic traditions, baptisms for the dead instead of masses and prayers etc.

    Dunno. Maybe Bryan’s wife put her foot down on that polygamy thing and so popery got the ad hoc nod after all.

    Like

  26. @Bryan Cross, I read your critique of Collision, and was surprised that you missed Wilson’s main point. Wilson said he *agreed* with Hitchens conclusions on a wide variety of ethical issues. That’s not the point. What we should never do, is trust our reasoning as the ultimate standard for deciding what is right and wrong. I’m right most of the time, (or so I think 🙂 wink wink) but not always, and neither are you; this is why we both need God’s Word as a rule for life. Jesus said the wise man builds his house upon the Rock, and by Rock he means his revealed Word.

    When Scripture calls us sheep, it’s not a complement; sheep are stupid and easily led astray, that includes the both of us! You are probably much smarter than me, but you still error. This is why all men need a firm foundation, none other than the Rock of God’s Word! Other wise we wind up building our house on sand.

    Bryan what is your house (life) built upon? Why do you have confidence that what you believe is correct?

    Like

  27. Bryan, in Collision, Hitchens stated that society has always known that murder and stealing is wrong, and didn’t need *God’s Law* to belabor the obvious. But is it obvious? Our current President thinks abortion should stay legal, and he loves taking money from the so called rich, and giving it to the poor, like a modern day Robin Hood. But is that ethical? What does your *reason* tell you? We know abortion and the welfare state are legally protected, but are they ethical? Did Obama’s *reason* let him down?

    Like

  28. Rome is infallible because Rome says so.
    End of story.
    Circular argument.
    Nope. A vain assertion is not an argument.

    There is no appeal to an external objective outside authority, but only raw relentless self promotion and aggrandizement.
    No ‘let another praise you and not your own mouth’, Rome shamelessly blows its own horn and only its own.
    There is no recusal or acknowledgement that its own interests are at stake when it comes to Rome’s witness about itself, which cannot be proven, cannot be questioned, cannot be wrong.

    It would be one thing, if God claimed the same – which he does, but Rome is not God even though she tries to act like she is. Those of us who demur are accused of being prejudiced against the arrogant paradigm. We just need to loosen up and go with the flow of history down the broad path and wide road that leads to the Vatican. Thanks for the driving directions, but we’re in to the counter intuitive paradigm.

    But for those just along for the ride, remember to keep that 8 track tape jammed into the machine, perforce if necessary. Your favorite song is bound to come up sooner or later. Ave Maria, Hail to the Chief, Hooked On Infallibility, It Must Be Propaganda.
    Whatever. It’s all there as long as you confess with the church of all ages, only Rome is, was and always will be infallible because only Rome has, does and will always infallibly say so. There is only one Roman name infallibly given by which men are saved, the Vicious Magisterium.

    rant over and out.

    Like

  29. Bryan, I wonder if you talked about paradigms as much with your dissertation adviser or committee? Or did you recognize their reason and arguments, whether in alignment with Rome or not, as outlooks either to which you needed to conform or that you needed to persuade? I suspect you actually didn’t instruct your faculty advisers on the correct paradigm. So why not reason like that elsewhere? I suspect you don’t even force your wife into subjection with paradigms.

    Like

  30. My brother is a realtor and he does some work for my boss’s company. I forwarded him an e-mail the other day that he didn’t have the background to fully understand. That night I had a voice mail from him and he was saying that he felt like Donnie from Lebowski. I sent him another e-mail to clarify, signed it “Walter”, and all was well.

    Like

  31. JRC: (3) Which includes Jesus’ promise to Peter that the Church was founded upon him and the gates of Hell would not prevail against it,

    Bryan: Number (3) is not among the motives of credibility.

    Catholic Encyclopedia: These motives of credibility may be briefly stated as follows: … [In the New Testament] We find, moreover, that He founded a Church which should, so He said, continue to the end of time, which should serve as the repository of His teaching, and should be the means of applying to all men the fruits of the redemption He had wrought.

    You need to clarify here. The reference in Cath En to “continue to the end of time” appears certainly to be to Matt 16.

    Like

  32. DGH: Had to Google the reference. Interesting quote: “In “Say My Name,” Walter refers to himself and Pinkman as “the two best meth cooks in America.”

    Not sure where to go with that one …

    Like

  33. Bryan,

    My reference to Cath En above is a serious point. But it’s not even the most important point.

    Matthew 16 is *the* most prominent inducement offered to Protestants as a reason to become Catholic.

    More generally, Jason Stellman argues that Scripture was his motive of credibility (“I fought the Church…” Other Catholic converts agree, and frequently cite Matt 16. “Upon This Rock” is the slogan, and the title of at least one book.

    Functionally, then, Matt 16 is not just a motive of credibility, but the, or perhaps one of the, most important motives of credibility.

    It’s discouraging, therefore, to see you throw Matthew 16 under the bus in what seems to be a facile dismissal of my argument. It suggests that you did not stop to consider the substance of the argument. Instead, it appears that you looked for a quick way to get rid of it.

    We need to understand each other. My sense is that you perceive me as generating spurious arguments and gnawing them to death. But I certainly perceive you in our interactions as trying to rest on technicalities without taking time to consider substance. And your writings indicate that you are a much better thinker than that.

    Like

  34. Jeff,

    You need to clarify here.

    No, I don’t *need* to clarify. You need me to clarify, in order to make your argument. You’re the one accusing the Catholic position of circularity, so the burden of proof is on you to make the argument. I have no obligation to help you make an argument against the Catholic Church.

    The reference in Cath En to “continue to the end of time” appears certainly to be to Matt 16.

    It may very well be. But that’s fully compatible with what I said in my previous comment. “Matt. 16” is not the same as the doctrine that Christ founded His Church on Peter, as shown by the fact that Protestants exist who affirm Matt 16 but deny that Matt 16 teaches that Christ founded His Church on Peter.

    Matthew 16 is *the* most prominent inducement offered to Protestants as a reason to become Catholic. More generally, Jason Stellman argues that Scripture was his motive of credibility (“I fought the Church…” Other Catholic converts agree, and frequently cite Matt 16. “Upon This Rock” is the slogan, and the title of at least one book. Functionally, then, Matt 16 is not just a motive of credibility, but the, or perhaps one of the, most important motives of credibility.

    Ok. But Matt 16 is not the same as (3) in your attempt to show the circularity of the Catholic position. Matt 16 as a motive of credibility is not the same as Matt 16 as interpreted authoritatively by the Catholic Church.

    It’s discouraging, therefore, to see you throw Matthew 16 under the bus in what seems to be a facile dismissal of my argument.

    I didn’t “dismiss” your argument. I refuted it, by showing that it sets up a straw man. If you are a truth lover (and I assume you are) you shouldn’t be discouraged by having your argument refuted. You should be glad to learn that your argument was a bad argument.

    It suggests that you did not stop to consider the substance of the argument. Instead, it appears that you looked for a quick way to get rid of it.

    Those are both criticisms of my person, and are fully compatible with the truth of what I said.

    We need to understand each other.

    I agree.

    My sense is that you perceive me as generating spurious arguments and gnawing them to death.

    On the Catholic question, in my experience, you have a tendency to generate straw men, without realizing that you’re repeatedly doing so, and therefore without switching from criticism-mode, to question-mode. (Hence, for example, your assumption stated above that “It’s not hard to establish the circularity of your position,” only to have your demonstration immediately shown to be based on a straw man.) You tend to be in the same mode toward Catholicism that Dawkins is toward Christianity. And for the same reason, the results are the same: bad arguments.

    But I certainly perceive you in our interactions as trying to rest on technicalities without taking time to consider substance.

    Showing an argument to be criticizing a straw man is not merely resting on a “technicality.” Or if it is, then we should not ignore such technicalities if we care about truth. The problem with your “technicality” objection is that the criterion for “technicality vs. good objection” are unspecified and/or arbitrary; it reduces to “any objection to the logical sloppiness that I myself am willing to overlook.”

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

    Like

  35. Bryan comes over here with circular arguments and folks get understandably peeved about it. Do you suppose unbelievers feel the same way when dialoguing with VanTilians?

    Like

  36. “Matt 16… is not the same as Matt 16 as interpreted authoritatively by the Catholic Church.”

    Glad to see this admission. 🙂

    Like

  37. Bryan, your response to Jeff makes me wonder again if you responded to your dissertation committee this way. Or is it possible for you to simply have a discussion and actually try to persuade rather than throw the yellow flag of poor logic?

    I also wonder if, since you seem to speak for the Catholic Church (“You’re the one accusing the Catholic position of circularity, so the burden of proof is on you to make the argument. I have no obligation to help you make an argument against the Catholic Church”) if this is the way that the Roman Catholic Church generally speaks when instructing and defending its positions. In point of fact, Jeff was accusing you of circularity, not the church. There may be a little identity confusion going on here. Did you swallow pieces of St. Peter’s Basilica along with the host when you joined?

    Like

  38. Bryan Cross,

    I hope this comes across respectfully, but do you have a full-time job? How do you have the time to give such lengthy replies on the various blogs such as Old Life and Called to Communion?

    David

    Like

  39. M&M, you mean when they’re told that because they have no epistemological justification for giving correct change they are therefore guilty of stealing capital when giving correct change? Yeah, that has to be at least as maddening as Bryan’s faith-is-the-sum-of-its-logical-parts Catholic narcissism.

    Like

  40. BC: On the Catholic question, in my experience, you have a tendency to generate straw men, without realizing that you’re repeatedly doing so, and therefore without switching from criticism-mode, to question-mode. (Hence, for example, your assumption stated above that “It’s not hard to establish the circularity of your position,” only to have your demonstration immediately shown to be based on a straw man.)

    *Shrugs* I’m sorry to be so bull-headed, but you showed nothing.

    You asserted without proof that Jesus’ promise to Peter in Matt 16 is not a part of the “Motives of Credibility.” When I *showed* that you are mistaken (with arguments and sources), you switched horses, without admission of error, and asserted that this is different from “the doctrine that Christ founded His Church on Peter”, without explaining what difference you have in mind. There’s no argument there, not even a hint that I could follow as to what your argument might be.

    So yes, you do need to clarify, unless you want to leave unsupported assertions to stand in place of an argument.

    BC: On the Catholic question, in my experience, you have a tendency to generate straw men, without realizing that you’re repeatedly doing so…

    Well, I’m certainly not immune to errors in logic. And I am certainly capable of errors in understanding any system, especially Catholic doctrine. And I genuinely welcome being shown that I am in error.

    But in my experience, you play the “straw man” card and retire the field, without doing the work necessary to show actual an actual straw man. You seem to feel that as soon as you say “straw man”, everyone should come to their senses and realize that you’ve been right all along. But we’ve been “straw-man”ed enough to become somewhat jaded by the charge. Just because Bryan says so, doesn’t make it so.

    And here, the claim of “straw man” is hanging on absolutely nothing. You have put forward a couple of naked assertions to stand in for a real argument — and then you represent me as “unconsciously making bad arguments” (!!!).

    Believe it or not, I try to take your arguments seriously, represent them clearly and honestly, and engage with them. I’m not sensing the same on the other side of the keyboard.

    Like

  41. It’s not just the circularity, as proven by one paradigmatic trump card after another and he says he wants to have dialogue. There’s the schoolmarm bit, there’s the hijacking of RC culture as if he’s representative. There’s the Borg apologetic – you will assimilate all else is irrelevant. You will surrender your notions of skepticism to the collective(church that Jesus founded). Everyone else looks and goes; since when did the Ciao’s have such a lack of beauty and charm to their approach. It’s a fashioning of Rome after his own likeness. His arguments have less to do with a roman apologetic and more to do with his vocation.

    Like

  42. I’ve enrolled in the CtC “How to win all arguments” training class. Here’s what I’ve learned. . .

    First, start with the absolute premise “I’m right because you’re wrong.”

    Second, analyze the crap out of every single word in your opponent’s argument so you can show how at least something in the other person’s argumentation is fallacious in some fashion or form . . . Even if that means ignoring the substantive points being made.

    Third, do whatever you have to do to make your opponent feel that he is inferior to you when it comes to your intellect. Throwing out names of logical fallacies often, referring to lengthy treatises you have written, or insinuating your opponent is not that bright are all fair game.

    Fourth, argue your opponent’s position is circular, but never give an inch if he accuses you of the same.

    Finally, if all else fails, argue that your opponent’s paradigm is keeping them from seeing the truth of your paradigm. This move is the checkmate of argumentation.

    Like

  43. Oh, and I almost forgot the other trump card move . . . Say often to your opponent “You haven’t demonstrated your point. You’ve merely asserted your point”. Gets ’em every time!

    Like

  44. Jeff,

    You asserted without proof that Jesus’ promise to Peter in Matt 16 is not a part of the “Motives of Credibility.”

    No, that’s more sloppiness. Here’s what I actually said:

    Number (3) is not among the motives of credibility. That is, the doctrine that Christ founded the Church on Peter is not a motive of credibility.

    The doctrine that Christ founded the Church on Peter is not the same as Jesus making a promise to Peter in Matt 16. Any Protestant could affirm the latter, but most Protestants would not affirm the former. And though that distinction may seem unimportant to you, it is the very reason why your six line attempt to demonstrate the circularity of the Catholic position ends up knocking down a straw man.

    So yes, you do need to clarify, unless you want to leave unsupported assertions to stand in place of an argument.

    The general rule is that each person has the privilege of stating what is his own position. He doesn’t have to *argue* that this is his position; merely stating it is sufficient. (Of course if he wanted to show that his position is true, then he would need to present an argument.) So if you lay out an argument attempting to show that my position is circular, then to show that what you’ve criticized is a straw man I do not need to make any argument; I need only show how the position your argument criticizes differs from my own. And I did that in my previous two comments.

    You seem to feel that as soon as you say “straw man”, everyone should come to their senses and realize that you’ve been right all along.

    In rational discourse the proper response to the claim that one has criticized a straw man is to ask how so, not to attack one’s interlocutor, or assert that one hasn’t criticized a straw man.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

    Like

  45. “Borg apologetic”- well played, sir!

    Stuart, it’s the hat talking. Take away the hat and even the pedantic tone disappears.

    Zrim, yes, kind of like that. And more generally, the prohbition on having thoughts outside of the circular system one is ostensibly trying to establish. But VanTilians admit circularity.

    Like

  46. M&M, what I have noticed amongst the CtC converts is that once one comes to Catholic conclusions then whatever gets one there is all good, come to non-Catholic conclusions and you’re kaput. For example, someone like JJS employs his own faculties to conclude that the Bible teaches that sola fide is out and one is only as justified as he is sanctified and his thinking is no longer scrutinized. When he did so and came to Reformed conclusions he was guilty of personal autonomy. So JJS may retain his Protestant first principles of sola scriptura, but when we do it’s circularity and question begging.

    Like

  47. …to boot, he can retain those first principles of scriptura even amongst those whose first principles are eccelsia–I mean, 9.5 of 10 CtC converts, including Cross, say that what it all came down to is that “the RCC is the church that Jesus Christ founded (so there).” That’s not JJS’s argument, rather that the Bible and Catholic dogma are one and the same.

    Like

  48. Zrim – That’s not JJS’s argument, rather that the Bible and Catholic dogma are one and the same.

    Erik – That must be entertaining to watch.

    Bryan,

    Give me an argument that is not circular for the authority of the Roman Catholic Church. Do you point to the Bible? Do you point to history? Do you point to miracles? Do you point to the fact that the church itself says so? Maybe it’s several of these — it doesn’t have to be just one. If you’ll answer my question I’ll ask some follow up questions.

    As mentioned yesterday, you cited your Wilson vs. Hitchens article as your demonstration that you do not use circular reasoning but I don’t see where you proved that in the article.

    Like

  49. I can imagine a fruitful discussion with an RCC apologist here, but I think it has to be one with more give and take. When we can humble ourselves and admit the various points of doctrine that we are ultimately taking on faith (i.e. they can’t be flawlessly proven using logic) then we will be getting somewhere. When someone on either side insists on having a 100-0 win the discussion becomes pretty ridiculous. Mature adults realize that the world just doesn’t work that way.

    Like

  50. When you read Kruger on the Canon he cites three factors that must be necessary for a NT book to be canonical – It has to be linked to the Apostles, it has to be widely received by the Church, and it has to have divine attributes. That third factor is a really interesting one. He would make the point that the Book of John was part of the Canon ten minutes after it was written, even before it was recognized as such by the church. This is like saying LeBron James was an NBA Hall of Famer the day he was drafted. This seems weird at first glance, but when you think about it, it also seems true. He has God-given abilities that are undeniable that make him great for the job he has undertaken. Now he also has to show up and play the games and he has to work with teammates to win championships to truly be called great, but there is a seed of greatness there that is undeniable. The same is true of Scripture if you think about it. What other book do we have that matches Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount or the Book of Romans?

    Like

  51. Bryan: The doctrine that Christ founded the Church on Peter is not the same as Jesus making a promise to Peter in Matt 16. Any Protestant could affirm the latter, but most Protestants would not affirm the former. And though that distinction may seem unimportant to you …

    I understand the disctinction.

    But is it really true that the Church does not present “the doctrine that Christ founded the Church on Peter” as a motive of credibility?

    Let’s consider “Catholic.com”, which many would consider to a reliable source of Catholic apologetics.

    We find here the argument that

    The New Testament contains five different metaphors for the foundation of the Church (Matt. 16:18, 1 Cor. 3:11, Eph. 2:20, 1 Pet. 2:5–6, Rev. 21:14). One metaphor that has been disputed is Jesus Christ’s calling the apostle Peter “rock”: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). …The Church Fathers, those Christians closest to the apostles in time, culture, and theological background, clearly understood that Jesus promised to build the Church on Peter, as the following passages show.

    And from the same site, an article by Karl Keating:

    Finally the missionary got to Matthew 16:18: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church.”

    “Hold it right there!” I said. “I know that verse. That’s where Jesus appointed Simon the earthly head of the Church. That’s where he appointed him the first pope.”… Catholics have something to say on behalf of their religion and [the missionary] should look more carefully into the Faith he once so confidently opposed.

    How is this not functioning as a “motive of credibility”, an inducement to belief? The article presents Matt 16, shows various ECF quotes to build a case that the church is founded on Peter, within a Catholic tract. Walk, talk, duck.

    BC: The general rule is that each person has the privilege of stating what is his own position.

    Sure. And we certainly don’t want to attribute positions to one another that aren’t accurate (say, “Gnosticism”, for example).

    But at this point, you appear to be denying that “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church” is a primary argument presented for the authority of the Catholic church.

    Can you see that this might seem dodgy?

    Like

  52. Jeff,

    How is this not functioning as a “motive of credibility”, an inducement to belief?

    Of course an interpretation of Matt 16 can be a motive of credibility for the paradigm in which that interpretation is held insofar as that interpretation makes other data intelligible. But an interpretation of Matt 16 cannot serve as a motive of credibility by way of having been authoritatively determined by the Church, precisely because that would involve circularity. So again, that’s where the move from (3) to (4) [in your six line argument] breaks down. You’re trying to claim that a motive of credibility is known on the basis of Church authority. However, no motive of credibility as such is known to be true on the basis of Church authority, but only by reason.

    In the Catholic paradigm, fideism is anathema, for reasons I explained in the “Wilson vs. Hitchens” article.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

    Like

  53. Jeff, help me out here. I’m working and reading at the same time so maybe I’m missing it. Is he ‘dinging’ you because in your point 3, you didn’t clarify that it was Matt 16 as ‘officially interpreted by the RCC”? and therefore your argument is a strawman?!

    Like

  54. O.K. So we can’t know that Matthew 16 was establishing the Roman Catholic Church through Peter based on the Roman Catholic Church because that would be circular and/or fideistic, we can only know it through reason. Who is to say that that belief is a reasonable belief? I say it’s not reasonable — Scripture does not mention the office of Pope, Jesus was speaking of establishing his church through the Apostles in general. Prove me wrong using reason.

    You make a jump from “Reason” to “Rome” in your article that you do not in any way justify that I can see.

    Like

  55. I also pick up a whiff of the notion in your article that (a) reason is good, (b) Protestants only read their Bibles, (c) the Bible is not about reason, (d) Philosophy is the study of reason, (e) Catholics read philosophy, (f) therefore Catholicism must be true and superior to Protestantism.

    I get a feeling that you think only Catholicism is capable of synthesizing faith and reason. Not all Protestants are fundamentalist biblicists, though (and not all Catholics — even all Popes — are intellectuals).

    Like

  56. Bryan: Of course an interpretation of Matt 16 can be a motive of credibility for the paradigm in which that interpretation is held insofar as that interpretation makes other data intelligible.

    Good. So (3) is, in fact, correct: Matt 16 (the text) and the promise from Christ to Peter that the church is founded upon him (the interpretation) are, in fact, one of the motives of credibility put forward by the RCC.

    Bryan: But an interpretation of Matt 16 cannot serve as a motive of credibility by way of having been authoritatively determined by the Church, precisely because that would involve circularity.

    Yes. I’m glad we are in agreement about the problem.

    And this is where (4a) comes in to play. We have Matthew 16, the text. What is its proper understanding? No other Christian group in the world other than the RCC understands Matthew 16 to be pointing to the Roman Catholic Church as “the church” that Jesus is referring to. This includes the Eastern Orthodox, who adhere to the ECFs just as much as Catholics do.

    The only way to *know*, or even find plausible, that (3) entails (1) is to first accept the RCC’s interpretation of the text.

    On what ground? Reason? There’s nothing in the text itself that says “And this church will be the church in Rome.” Reason doesn’t get you to Rome from that text.

    No, the interpretation is on the ground of church tradition — and church tradition as interpreted by the Western, Roman Church. “Peter was in Rome; Peter was the first pope; Peter handed down the charism of office to Linus.” All of this comes from the tradition in the Western church. One must first accept the Roman tradition before one can believe the Roman interpretation of Matt 16.

    The chain of evidence that gets us from text to interpretation runs right through Rome’s forensic department.

    And that’s the circularity.

    Like

  57. Bryan: The general rule is that each person has the privilege of stating what is his own position …

    I want to make clear that my pressing you so hard is not personal animus. I have admiration for your personal story, especially wrt your account of your daughter. I also have affection for the humanity that you display at points, such as celebrating Valentine’s Day with your wife.

    I also admire your ability to use reason to bring clarity to situations at times (for instance, recently at Jason’s blog).

    And I pray for you at times (and not in imprecatory ways!).

    My pressing you has to do with conventions of rational discourse, and perceived lack of following them.

    So you said,

    In rational discourse the proper response to the claim that one has criticized a straw man is to ask how so, not to attack one’s interlocutor, or assert that one hasn’t criticized a straw man.

    And that’s true. I could have been more polite, and I apologize for going into full throttle mode.

    At the same time, in rational discourse, the proper response to someone’s misapprehending your position is to lay it clearly out on the table. This convention shows good faith.

    I have a hard time getting you to do that, going all the way back to 2007. And so it is here:

    BC: No, I don’t *need* to clarify. You need me to clarify, in order to make your argument. You’re the one accusing the Catholic position of circularity, so the burden of proof is on you to make the argument. I have no obligation to help you make an argument against the Catholic Church…

    You won’t show your cards … because your position might be attacked?

    That’s not “lover-of-truth” stuff. It would really help discussion for you to respond to straw-men (as you see it) by laying out your actual position for contrast.

    I have no desire to misrepresent you. I am, however, left to guess at times what your underlying assumptions might be.

    Like

  58. Perhaps what Bryan is doing is taking a presuppositional approach with us (similar to Bahnsen against Gordon Stein). He will state his position, attack ours, but never condescend to present his in an evidentialist or block-house way. He will just assert that Roman Catholicism is reasonable and true without defending the assertion. It’s an approach, but it doesn’t explain to me how he was personally persuaded to become a Catholic, especially given the fact that his difficulties with Protestantism were intellectual problems. If Rome solves those intellectual problems in a way that doesn’t involve fideism, by all means tell us how. It’s the Christian thing to do.

    Like

  59. Otherwise I am tempted at some point to dismiss his conversion as wish fulfillment. As a Protestant he was troubled by the circularity of sola scriptura, the splintered nature of Protestantism, and the lack of a final, authoritative “referee”. He didn’t want to abandon his Christian faith for atheism so Rome seemed the only viable option. He dove in and now defends Rome at all costs because there are no other options available — only atheism and the cold, hard reality of an atheistic death in a few decades.

    Like

  60. Erik, I wouldn’t exercise yourself to much being fair to Bryan. He’s quite adept at taking ground in conversation not granted. He presumes the high ground just fine on his own.

    Like

  61. “It’s an approach, but it doesn’t explain to me how he was personally persuaded to become a Catholic”

    Consider a Protestant who has undergone a crisis conversion. Later he begins to study apologetics and then explains his faith by way of that apologetic. Well, the apologetic doesn’t explain how he came to the faith – it’s designed for persuasion.

    Now think of someone like BC. Someone like him might have a conversion to RC with parallels to the Protestant crisis conversion, only it’s crisis encounter with The Church. Later he develops an apologetic for RC, but the apologetic doesn’t explain his conversion any more than the Protestant’s apologetic explains his conversion.

    If I can combine Pascal and Nike, “we just do it, then aftewards come up with reasons why we did it.”

    Like

  62. I’m trying to make sense of Bryan’s Jekyll & Hyde nature when it comes to these conversations. Maybe it’s just time constraints on certain days, but if that’s the case, just say so. Probably the #1 apologetic, practically speaking, is being a genuinely really nice person. We all lose sight of that at times.

    Like

  63. Jeff,

    The only way to *know*, or even find plausible, that (3) entails (1) is to first accept the RCC’s interpretation of the text.

    I don’t claim that (3) entails (1). So you’re criticizing an argument that I don’t make, i.e. you’re again criticizing a straw man.

    One must first accept the Roman tradition before one can believe the Roman interpretation of Matt 16.

    It is not the case that one must “accept” Catholic tradition in order to evaluate its coherence and explanatory power with respect to all the available evidence. It is possible to examine various traditions (including the Catholic tradition) in relation to the available evidence, without having first “accepted” the Catholic tradition. One need not be Catholic, or embrace the authority of the Catholic Church in order to examine the data through the Catholic paradigm, including the Catholic interpretation of passages of Scripture.

    I want to make clear that my pressing you so hard is not personal animus… And I pray for you at times (and not in imprecatory ways!).

    Thank you very much for your kind words, and for your prayers. I am grateful for that.

    and I apologize for going into full throttle mode

    Sure, no problem.

    At the same time, in rational discourse, the proper response to someone’s misapprehending your position is to lay it clearly out on the table.

    Only if the person gives indication that he has shifted from criticism-mode to question-mode (showing that he wants to understand), and is not merely preparing for the next ‘attack.’ Persons only in criticism-mode haven’t earned the right to have the position “clearly laid out on the table.”

    You won’t show your cards … because your position might be attacked?

    No, I’m glad to “show my cards.” I’ve been laying out these things online for over six years. What do you want to know?

    It would really help discussion for you to respond to straw-men (as you see it) by laying out your actual position for contrast.

    The following model is not a good dialectic: Person 1 attacks a straw man, Person 2 responds by explaining how it is straw man. Rinse, repeat. Call that the straw man dialectic. The much better approach is for the interlocutors to ask questions of each other and come to understand each other’s positions, and only then criticize each other’s positions, such that their criticisms are based on the answers they have already received from each other in coming to a mutual understanding of each other’s positions. This is why when someone attempts to make use of the straw man dialectic I generally limit my responses only to showing that the criticisms are criticisms of straw men, so as to make evident the futility of the straw man dialectic, and stimulate a shift toward an interrogative dialectic.

    Here’s what our conversation appears like from my end. You jump in saying it is will be easy to show the circularity of the Catholic position. Then, when I point out that your criticism is that of a straw man, you offer another straw man, and then complain that I’m not adequately helping you understand the Catholic position, as if I have some obligation to help you figure out how to construct a sound anti-Catholic argument. As I said above, I have no such obligation. If you want to criticize the Catholic Church, don’t expect me to help you do so, or complain if I don’t help you do so. That’s not good faith on *your* part. Instead of complaining that I’m not helping you construct your failed anti-Catholic argument, the better response is to retract your criticism (at least for now), and switch to question-mode. If a person is in criticism-mode, then generally at most I merely refute his bad arguments or false claims. But if a person is in question-mode, then we can have a genuine dialogue.

    I have no desire to misrepresent you. I am, however, left to guess at times what your underlying assumptions might be.

    I believe you that you have no desire to misrepresent me. But it is false that you ever have to guess my position or assumptions, because you can always ask.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

    Like

  64. I just spent a few hours reading Cross contra Horton on Sola Scriptura (actually Cross’s rebuttal of Horton’s final statement in Modern Reformation that Cross posted on the Called to Communion site because he wasn’t offered enough space in the magazine). It’s long, but well written. I think that unlike here at Old Life Cross puts all his cards on the table. I will comment more on the piece but for now suffice to say that for Cross the notion of apostolic succession is the tenet on which Roman Catholicism stands or falls. I am really wondering why Cross is now pointing people to his Wilson vs. Hitchens piece (which I don’t really think proves anything) rather than this one which lays out his views so clearly.

    The meatiest section of the “Horton” piece is a lengthy defense of apostolic succession (10 pages) filled with quotes from the church fathers. The source for the majority of the quotes are volumes of “Historia Ecclesiastica” (Church History). So Cross is largely making historical arguments. As this Wikipedia article demonstrates, this is by no means a simple subject and is fraught with the same issues that face any other type of historical interpretation:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecclesiastical_history_(Catholicism)

    One of the historians that Cross cites is Eusebius. As Wikipedia notes, Eusebius’ historical work is not without controversy:

    “The accuracy of Eusebius’s accounts have often been called into question. In the 5th century, the Christian historian Socrates Scholasticus described Eusebius as writing for “rhetorical finish” and for the “praises of the Emperor” rather than the “accurate statement of facts.”[8] The methods of Eusebius were criticised by Edward Gibbon in the 18th century.[9] In the 19th century Jacob Burckhardt viewed Eusebius as ‘a liar’, the “first thoroughly dishonest historian of antiquity.”[9] Ramsay MacMullen in the 20th century regarded Eusebius’s work as representative of early Christian historical accounts in which “Hostile writings and discarded views were not recopied or passed on, or they were actively suppressed…, matters discreditable to the faith were to be consigned to silence.”[10] As a consequence this kind of methodology in MacMullens view has distorted modern attempts, (e.g. Harnack, Nock, and Brady), to describe how the Church grew in the early centuries.[11] Arnaldo Momigliano wrote that in Eusebius’s mind “chronology was something between an exact science and an instrument of propaganda “[12] Drake in the 21st century treats Eusebius as working within the framework of a “totalizing discourse” that viewed the world from a single point of view that excluded anything he thought inappropriate.[13]”

    I’ll have much more to say, but reading Cross’s “Horton” piece tells me that there are many substantive discussions that we can have if he is willing. This posture he takes where he just attacks people’s logic and refuses to engage is really odd given the kind of work he has shown he is capable of (when writing for a friendly audience).

    Like

  65. One really interesting question that Hart could weigh in on is the extent that we can know religious truth from historical events. Obviously as Christians we believe we can to some extent (Old Testament history, the gospels, the Book of Acts), but how about the history of the early church after the time period recorded in Scripture? Very key question in this debate. I think Bryan presupposes that Christ would not have left his church without a “visible living interpretive authority” on earth and that may drive his historical analysis.

    Like

  66. Another nugget:

    “Let me clarify that it is not my position that the Magisterium ‘needs to interpreter’. But when the Magisterium needs to be interpreted, the Magisterium itself performs this function.”

    Like

  67. Correction:

    Another nugget:

    “Let me clarify that it is not my position that the Magisterium ‘needs no interpreter’. But when the Magisterium needs to be interpreted, the Magisterium itself performs this function.”

    Like

  68. Another huge question we need to ask (that comes up again and again in our discussions with Theonomists and Neocalvinists) is the role of Constantinianism in preserving the “unity” of the Roman Catholic Church. “Unity” is easier to maintain when it is being enforced by the state. In no place do I see Cross reckon with this in “Horton”. Who is to say that the “schism” and “fragmentation” that we see in Protestantism would not have happened in 500 instead of in 1500 had Constantine not converted?

    Like

  69. If the Catholic response is that God’s favor led to Constantine then one has to ask if God’s disfavor led to Luther. This, however, might give weight to the Protestant notion that Rome had gotten off track and God was judging her.

    Like

  70. One last nugget for tonight:

    “While the Gnostics of the second century claimed that the bishops never received the full teaching of the Apostles, Protestantism claims that the bishops lost it. But, either way, it amounts to a kind of ecclesial deism; Christ set up His Church and then backed away and let her lose the faith. The Church is not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul (Heb 10:39).”

    Are those who claim that Old Testament Israel lost the faith also ecclesial deists? Are not the Jews a testament to the fact that large numbers can lose their way?

    Like

  71. Erik, you’re obviously free to spend your time as you see fit and I’ve read a fair amount of what Cross has written, I think probably the most important point to keep in mind, is Bryan’s take on Rome is just that, Bryan’s take. And even more to the point, Bryan’s apologetic is little more than Bryan’s apology for Bryan’s interpretation of Rome.

    Like

  72. Bryan, here is your straw man, the claim that this is the church that Christ founded. That is a historical claim that needs to be supported and plenty of very good Roman Catholic historians do not hang the truth of the Roman Catholic church on papal authority the way that you do because your assertion does not explain what actually happened. You make assertions repeatedly about the papacy and its significance that cannot bear historical scrutiny. And when you do hear evidence contrary to your understanding, you engage in arguments that resemble old fundamentalist arguments about biblical inerrancy — you explain things away.

    I understand you may not value historical understanding since you seem to me to follow an older neo-scholastic approach (which is no longer in favor post Vatican II which turned the church clearly in a ressourcement direction). But it seems to me that if your position is going to have much of a hearing outside narrow CTC circles, you need to do what Reformed Protestants have long done (though not always successfully with Scripture), which is to reconcile the constancy of God’s work in the vicissitudes of history. We still believe in inerrancy after paying a lot of attention to the human aspects of Scripture. You seem to spend almost no time on the humanity of the papacy and its less than flattering moments or what this means for supremacy, apostolic succession, of infallibility.

    Let’s have more Oakley and less Leo XIII (can you even say that?).

    Like

  73. Erik, the key word is visible. When Christ promised to send his Spirit to lead them into all truth, did he envision a visible dove leading the saints? That phrase begs the question and points to a theology of glory. (I know, wrong paradigm and it is gnostic to boot.)

    BTW, we know very little from historical development, at least from the perspective of what God reveals. We have his word. That’s enough (sorry to sound biblicist). But trying to discern God’s ways or truth in history is something those licensed to study the past can’t do.

    Like

  74. As I’ve thought about Bryan’s “Wilson vs. Hitchens” piece in light of his “Horton” piece it makes more sense. If Scripture is the foundation of our (Reformed Protestants) faith, apostolic succession is undoubtedly the foundation of Bryan (and the CTC converts’ faith). In their minds it resolves all of the problems they had with Protestantism. Bryan’s exaltation of reason in “Wilson vs. Hitchens” makes sense only in light of a church that can claim apostolic succession. The underlying assumption is that if men (“bishops”) are linked directly to Christ they can be trusted to use reason and philosophy to discern truth that is not necessarily made crystal clear in Scripture. A really good example is Ineffabilis Deus and the development of dogma regarding the Virgin Mary:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immaculate_Conception

    If you want to shake the faith of a CTC Catholic you have to shake their faith in apostolic succession and I think this involves historical arguments. Sean – How did you get around this in leaving Catholicism? D.G. – Do you have any historical works that deal with this issue that you would recommend?

    This really is the whole ball of wax with these guys — especially those who have left their cage phase.

    Stellman is still a bit of an odd duck (and a newbie). Bryan quotes Tertullian in “Horton”:

    “Our appeal [in debating with the heretics], therefore, must not be made to the Scriptures; nor must controversy be admitted on points in which victory will either be impossible, or uncertain, or not certain enough. For a resort to the Scriptures would but result in placing both parties on equal footing, whereas the natural order of procedure requires one question to be asked first, which is the only one now that should be discussed: “With whom lies that very faith to which the Scriptures belong? From what and through whom, and when, and to whom, has been handed down that rule by which men become Christians? For wherever it shall be manifest that the true Christian rule and faith shall be, there will likewise be the true Scriptures and expositions thereof, and all the Christian traditions”73

    “Since this is the case, in order that the truth may be adjudged to belong to us, ‘as many as walk according to the rule,’ which the church has handed down from the apostles, the apostles from Christ, and Christ from God, the reason of our position is clear, when it determines that heretics ought not to be allowed to challenge an appeal to the Scriptures, since we, without the scriptures, prove that they have nothing to do with the Scriptures. For as they are heretics, they cannot be true Christians, because it is not from Christ that they get that which they pursue of their own mere choice, and from the pursuit incur and admit the name of heretics. Thus not being Christians, they have acquired no right to the Christian Scriptures; and it may be very fairly said to them, ‘Who are you?’”74

    Bryan has absorbed this, which is why he will only address certain people here (and that on his terms). It’s an approach of calulated and principled (in his mind) arrogance.

    Like

  75. Bryan restrains himself pretty well throughout the first 27 pages of “Horton”, but then he loses bladder control on page 28:

    “The problem with the claim that Catholics are on a quest for illegitimate religious certainty is that ‘illegitimate’ is defined in a question-begging way, i.e. one that presumes that Christ did not establish His Church with a living visible Magisterial authority by which doctrinal and moral questions could be definitively resolved. While from a Protestant point of view the Catholic seems guilty of QIRC (i.e. Quest for Illegitimate Religious Certainty), if in fact Christ did establish a living visible Magisterium, then the Protestant is guilty of what we could call NODIMA (Neglect Of Divinely Instituted Magisterial Authority). So charging the Catholic with QIRC is question-begging, and in order to resolve the disagreement on this point we have to step back and examine whether or not Christ did in fact establish a visible living Magisterial authority in His Church.

    St. Paul describes the condition of men in the last days as “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Tim 3:7) They are like the episcopal ghost in C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce, who cannot come to the knowledge of the truth. The one term they cannot bear is ‘dogma,’ because it requires them to submit their own interpretation to that of someone else. They have placed themselves in this epistemic condition because ultimately they are “lovers of self.” (2 Tim 3:2) By making themselves their own highest interpretive authority, they lose the very possibility of dogma and hence lose the possibility of coming to a knowledge of the truth. They are left perpetually only with opinion, with its accompanying uncertainty. And that is desirable to them in one respect because it allows them to retain autonomy. No one has the authority to tell them how to interpret and understand Scripture and thus how to worship and what to believe. They can therefore interpret Scripture as seems fit to them, having an appearance of learning, by accumulating for themselves ‘teachers’ to suit their own likings. (2 Timothy 4:3) They choose teachers who fit their own interpretation of Scripture, and if no denomination or community exists which teaches their own interpretation of Scripture, then they simply start one and tailor it to their own interpretation. We see this clearly today in the form of ecclesial consumerism, and ‘hipster Christianity.’ Your solution is a return to Scripture, or, more accurately, to your own interpretation of Scripture. But the source of the problem so clearly manifest in the explicit ecclesial consumerism of our time is inherent in the Protestant denial of the visible living magisterial authority Christ established in His Church. Church-according-to-my-style and Church-according-to-my-interpretation are two sides of the same coin. You condemn the former, while embracing the latter. You can call people to your interpretation of Scripture; however, since you have no interpretive authority by way of a succession from the Apostles, you are essentially just one more talking head among the myriads of men offering their own opinion. And that very fact performatively expresses approval to everyone to follow his or her own opinion concerning God and Scripture: if you can do it, so can they. But we are men under authority, subject to Christ by submitting ourselves to those having the succession from Christ through the Apostles.79

    May God help us, and reconcile us all in the full communion He prayed we would manifest to the world. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan”

    Like

  76. D.G. – ” But trying to discern God’s ways or truth in history is something those licensed to study the past can’t do.”

    Erik – Indeed. I envisioned you & Muether gritting your teeth as you tried to get through the recent history of the UPCUSA (and PCUSA) in “Seeking a Better Country”. I would love to see you try to lecture on that topic with a straight face.

    Like

  77. Sean – I’m going a little Donnie Brasco on this, but I suspect I’ll emerge fine, just as I do when I get together with my atheist friend. Now if I can only get Cross and my atheist friend together. That would be an interesting conversation to sit in on.

    Like

  78. Darryl,

    Bryan, here is your straw man, the claim that this is the church that Christ founded.

    How is that a straw man?

    That is a historical claim that needs to be supported …

    I agree.

    … and plenty of very good Roman Catholic historians do not hang the truth of the Roman Catholic church on papal authority the way that you do

    Where, exactly (i.e. in what claim of mine) do I “hang the truth of the Roman Catholic church on papal authority”? (I’m asking because I do not know exactly what you have in mind when you say “the way you do.”)

    because your assertion does not explain what actually happened.

    Of course my claim that the Catholic Church is the Church Christ founded “does not explain what actually happened” over the course of Church history. It is not even an explanatory statement; it is an identifying statement, namely, this is the Church that Christ founded. It is not falsified by not explaining a series of events it does not address and does not intend to address. If you want such an explanation, read Warrent Carroll’s five volume Christendom series, or James Hitchcock’s recent one volume History of the Catholic Church (December, 2012).

    You make assertions repeatedly about the papacy and its significance that cannot bear historical scrutiny.

    Such as? (Mere hand-waving accusations are worthless.) Which assertions have I made about the papacy that “cannot bear historical scrutiny”?

    And when you do hear evidence contrary to your understanding, you engage in arguments that resemble old fundamentalist arguments about biblical inerrancy — you explain things away.>

    Where, exactly (i.e. in what comment or article) have I “explained away” some evidence contrary to my understanding? The proper response to someone “explaining away” some evidence is not to attack the person (e.g. “you explain things away”), but to show how their “explanation” does not adequately account for the evidence.

    I understand you may not value historical understanding …

    This criticism of my person is fully compatible with everything I’ve said being true. So also is the amount of writing and time I have spent on the humanity of the papacy.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

    Like

  79. Erik,

    It’s an approach of calulated and principled (in his mind) arrogance.

    No, it simply has to do with time constraints, which does not allow me to carry on multiple conversations at once, especially with you because you post *so many* comments I can hardly keep up *reading* them, let alone responding to them.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

    Like

  80. Erik, it wasn’t and isn’t that difficult to overcome apostolic succession. According to Gal 1:8, at a very minimum, you can’t contradict original apostolic teaching. They have and they do. Full stop.

    They get around this by one; suspiciously(conveniently), denying the very opportunity that Paul presents in Gal, isn’t even possible in Rome. IOW, the “lampstand’s” removal isn’t even on the table. It is for Paul and angels, but somehow not for Rome. Two, they get around this by raising tradition and magisterial supervision of the deposit(infallible interpreter) to the level of sacred scripture. In theory it’s a three legged stool, but it works out as a hierarchical interpretive grid that starts with the magisterium interpreting and ‘unfolding’, ‘discovering’, sacred tradition which is both informed by, but also gives interpretation of sacred scripture. The more I read the bible(perspicuity) the more difficult it became to be a ‘good’ catholic. Just reading the bible was fairly novel, and frowned upon.

    They claim apostolic succession. We deny. Which makes JJS’ attempts silly and maybe disingenuous, because when a potential contradiction arises they/he pulls the lexicon and tradition card-meaning; “I know the language ‘reads’ this or that way but sacred tradition per the infallible interpreter has rendered it ‘this’ way, and I submit myself, by faith, to that understanding.”

    Like

  81. Amazon review of Carroll’s first volume (and I thought Hart’s global history of Calvinism was ambitious):

    48 of 51 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Historical Context March 1, 2003
    By Arthem

    First of all, it is worth note that Carroll admits his bias right from the beginning, and thus honestly admits to what would have been obvious from the first few pages of his work. Among the “objective historians”, the lack of bias is paramount, and is established by attacking, diminishing, and demeaning whatever subject they approach. Carroll, by way of contrast, admits a pre-existing bias, and is thus free to explore, explain, and defend his subject matter.

    The Founding of Christendom accomplishes three great ends. First, it provides a succinct and riveting chronological study of the “History of the World.” I admit I was quite shocked to discover that Carroll picks up his work not from AD0, but from the moment of Creation itself. Audacious! And yet his historical approach provides a new view of Genesis.

    Secondly, Carroll’s portrait of the evolution of Judaism, through the birth of Christ gives a compelling view of the necessity of the Old Testament as a precondition to the New.

    Finally, the extent to which “Foundation” establishes chronological context is particularly impressive. Without so much as a “Meanwhile, in Greece…” Carroll manages to firmly establish the temporal relationship of Biblical events within the broader context of world history. It is one thing to look at a wall chart displaying events in different civilizations at different times, and quite another to understand the relationship between Philistine domination of the Israelites and the Homeric legends of ancient Greece. Certainly other works have hinted at the similarities between the Phillistines, Goliath and the Grecian demi-gods, but Carroll’s was the first work that made it click so clearly.

    Finally, this is the best of the four comparably excellent volumes for one primary reason: this volume has the least number of references to “August, the ancient dying time of Rome,” the phrase of resort that may be Carroll’s one true weakness.

    Like

  82. Bryan – “No, it simply has to do with time constraints, which does not allow me to carry on multiple conversations at once, especially with you because you post *so many* comments I can hardly keep up *reading* them, let alone responding to them.”

    Erik – I take great pride in my apparent ability to wear even you (and a few other select people at Old Life) out. It’s no easy task. Ha, ha. I am engaging with your stuff, though.

    Like

  83. Sean – They deny charges of “Sola Ecclesia”, always retreating the the claim that the Magisterium exists merely to interpret Scripture, but I agree with you that the charge is true. When the church can speak on issues that are not clear (or not mentioned or barely mentioned) in Scripture, raise those interpretations to the level of dogma, and declare people heretics that will not give assent, how in the world is that not really Sola Ecclesia?

    It reminds me of an article I read in the WSJ lately about China. It has been a centuries-old policy that common people can come to Beijing to petition the emperor (now the Party leadership) for redress of grievances. Officially the Party still “welcomes” this. When peasants actually show up, however, the central government gives the local governments a hard time. The local governments respond by sending thugs to the capitol to try to round up the peasants and bring them back home. They even put them in unofficial “black jails” until they can take them back. The Party now is denouncing that practice “officially”, but who knows what they are really doing behind the scenes, unofficially.

    Like

  84. Erik, the trick with Rome, well one of many, is what she will grant on one hand she will effectively take away with the other. Thus, the reformers emphasis on the solas. Rome will talk to you all day about Christ, grace, faith, glory to God. The deposit of faith is enormous, just look at their catechism. Rome says a lot, and it’s pure faith claim(Kant) that it coheres.

    Like

  85. Bryan, the Audacity of the Papacy post is one of many at CTC that puts the weight of Rome on the papacy. It is also a prime element in the conversion narratives of many at CTC — “there must be a place on earth that maintains truth and order.” The papacy is also what elevates Rome over Constantinople, the Western Church over the Eastern Church. In case you have missed it, a lot of recent works on the differences between Vatican I and Vatican II place significant limits on the papacy’s claims of power — which again is key to CTC’s claims about the necessity and audacity of the papacy. The historians are clear about what the pope’s claimed. They are also clear that Vatican II tried to check that papal power. I am thinking of folks John O’Malley, not to mention collections of essays like the one edited by Michael Lacey and Francis Oakley.

    So my claim still stands about your failure to do justice to history. You have trouble admitting that the church has changed on the pope. You can claim all you want certain documents have not changed, though I find it hard to believe that you would say that the infallibility attributed to the papacy at Vatican I is the same as the infallibility attributed to the people of God at Vatican II:

    The holy people of God shares also in Christ’s prophetic office; it spreads abroad a living witness to Him, especially by means of a life of faith and charity and by offering to God a sacrifice of praise, the tribute of lips which give praise to His name.(110) The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One,(111) cannot err in matters of belief. They manifest this special property by means of the whole peoples’ supernatural discernment in matters of faith when “from the Bishops down to the last of the lay faithful” (8*) they show universal agreement in matters of faith and morals. That discernment in matters of faith is aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth. It is exercised under the guidance of the sacred teaching authority, in faithful and respectful obedience to which the people of God accepts that which is not just the word of men but truly the word of God.(112) Through it, the people of God adheres unwaveringly to the faith given once and for all to the saints,(113) penetrates it more deeply with right thinking, and applies it more fully in its life. (Lumen Gentium ch. 2, 12)

    Sorry Bryan, but I think you are in denial about historical changes within the Roman Catholic Church and I still contend that you present a view of Rome untethered to either the early history of the papacy in its relations to the East or to post Vatican II developments in the papacy and its relations to councils. These changes are especially notable in several of James Hitchcock’s works since 1970.

    Like

  86. Erik, I don’t know the literature on the early church or the history of apostolic succession. I do know that the Eastern church’s claims to historicity and apostolicity are just as strong as Rome’s, in which case it is a Protestant-like opinion to choose Rome over the East.

    Like

  87. Wikipedia – “The Eastern Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church[note 1] and commonly referred to as the Orthodox Church,[7] is the second largest Christian Church in the world,[8] with an estimated 225–300 million adherents,[9] primarily in Eastern and Southeastern Europe and the Middle East. It is the religious denomination of the majority of the populations of Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Greece, and Cyprus; significant minority populations exist in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. It teaches that it is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church established by Jesus Christ and his Apostles almost 2,000 years ago.”

    Uh-oh. Any former Eastern Orthodox at CTC or are they just lapsed Protestants?

    Wikipedia again:

    “Great Schism
    Main article: East-West Schism
    In the 11th century what was recognised as the Great Schism took place between Rome and Constantinople, which led to separation between the Church of the West, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Eastern Byzantine Churches, now the Orthodox. There were doctrinal issues like the filioque clause and the authority of the Roman Pope involved in the split, but these were greatly exacerbated by political factors of both Church and state, and by cultural and linguistic differences between Latins and Greeks. Prior to 1054, the Eastern and Western halves of the Church had frequently been in conflict, particularly during the periods of Eastern iconoclasm and the Photian schism.[87]

    The final breach is often considered to have arisen after the capture and sacking of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade in 1204; the final break with Rome occurred circa 1450. The sacking of Church of Holy Wisdom and establishment of the Latin Empire as a seeming attempt to supplant the Orthodox Byzantine Empire in 1204 is viewed with some rancour to the present day. In 2004, Pope John Paul II extended a formal apology for the sacking of Constantinople in 1204, which was importantly also strongly condemned by the Pope at the time (Innocent III, see reference at end of paragraph); the apology was formally accepted by Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. Many things that were stolen during this time —holy relics, riches, and many other items—were not returned and are still held in various Western European cities, particularly Venice.[88][89]
    Reunion was attempted twice, at the 1274 Second Council of Lyon and the 1439 Council of Florence. The Council of Florence did briefly reestablish communion between East and West, which lasted until after the fall of Constantinople in 1453. In each case, however, the councils were rejected by the Orthodox people as a whole, and the union of Florence also became very politically difficult after Constantinople came under Ottoman rule, so in both cases came to fail. Some local Eastern Churches have, however, renewed union with Rome in time since (see Eastern Catholic Churches). Recent decades have seen a renewal of ecumenical spirit and dialogue between the Churches.[90]”

    Old School & New School Presbyterians on steroids.

    Like

  88. Darryl,

    Bryan, the Audacity of the Papacy post is one of many at CTC that puts the weight of Rome on the papacy.

    What exactly do you mean by “puts the weight of Rome on the papacy”? Using metaphors (e.g. weight) is not helpful in attempting to resolve possible disagreements.

    It is also a prime element in the conversion narratives of many at CTC — “there must be a place on earth that maintains truth and order.”

    Sure. I don’t disagree with that.

    The papacy is also what elevates Rome over Constantinople, the Western Church over the Eastern Church.

    Agreed.

    In case you have missed it, a lot of recent works on the differences between Vatican I and Vatican II place significant limits on the papacy’s claims of power — which again is key to CTC’s claims about the necessity and audacity of the papacy. The historians are clear about what the pope’s claimed. They are also clear that Vatican II tried to check that papal power. I am thinking of folks John O’Malley, not to mention collections of essays like the one edited by Michael Lacey and Francis Oakley.

    I’m aware of all this, but I don’t see how it is incompatible with anything I’ve said (or Neal said in his “Audacity” article). If you think it is incompatible with something we’ve said, please be specific.

    So my claim still stands about your failure to do justice to history.

    Perhaps you could be specific. What historical claim have I (or CTC) made, that you think does not “do justice to history”?

    You have trouble admitting that the church has changed on the pope.

    This is a statement about *me,* and is compatible with everything I’ve said being true.

    You can claim all you want certain documents have not changed,

    Documents don’t change, except insofar as they age, etc. Are you talking about doctrinal change? If so, I’ve already affirmed that doctrine changes in the sense of development, not contradiction — see my first comment in your “Reckoning with Vatican II” thread.

    though I find it hard to believe that you would say that the infallibility attributed to the papacy at Vatican I is the same as the infallibility attributed to the people of God at Vatican II:

    It is part of the same charism, though exercised differently by the lay faithful than by the papacy.

    Sorry Bryan, but I think you are in denial about historical changes within the Roman Catholic Church

    This is a statement about my person, and is fully compatible with … etc. But, nevertheless, which changes in the Roman Catholic Church have I denied, and where, exactly, did I deny them? (Again, these hand-waving criticisms are worthless.)

    and I still contend that you present a view of Rome untethered to either the early history of the papacy in its relations to the East or to post Vatican II developments in the papacy and its relations to councils.

    If anything I (or CTC) has said is incorrect or inaccurate, feel free to specify. What you’re doing here is mere hand-waving with broad, general accusations, and are for that reason entirely unhelpful for resolving the disagreement.

    These changes are especially notable in several of James Hitchcock’s works since 1970.

    And which of those changes do you think I (or CTC) deny?

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

    Like

  89. It is interesting to compare and contrast Cross’s early church history in “Horton” with Hart & Muether’s Presbyterian history in “Seeking a Better Country”. Cross’s history is very neat and tidy and, (surprise!), The Roman Catholic Church comes out smelling like a rose. Hart & Muether present Presbyterianism warts and all to the point that at the end of the book you find yourself asking, “How in the world are these guys still Presbyterians?!”. Which work appears to be more true to life, though?

    It’s like watching a studio code movie on vice where couples are sleeping in separate beds and comparing it to “Boogie Nights”. One rings true, one does not.

    Like

  90. Bryan, did you talk to your faculty advisers this way? Did you point out when they took issue with something your wrote that they were addressing your person and not the argument? Why do you interact with other people this way?

    As for an example of your (apparent) denial of history, what do you make of this assessment of Vatican 2 and the pre-conciliar American church from John Tracy Ellis:

    . . . the final resolution of a problem that had worried American Catholics from the beginning of their national history, namely, the American Constitutional principle of separation of church and state vis-a-vis their own Church’s official teaching of the need for a union between the two. It mattered not that one would look in vain for American Catholics who championed the union of Church and State; so long as Rome did so it remained a source of embarrassment and uneasiness. The solution began to evolve in the 1950’s in a gradual and sometimes painful — way with the efforts of John Courtney Murray, S.J., to find a theological accommodation, so to speak. Father Fogarty relates the story in full detail with the aid of documents hitherto unpublished, and that to its culmination with the promulgation by Pope Paul VI on December 7, 1965, of the Declaration on Religious Freedom of Vatican Council II.(foreword to The Vatican and the American Hierarchy, xiii)

    So I wonder if you agree that the papacy changed its teaching on the relation between church and state at Vatican II.

    If the papacy did change, then what happens to the prior declarations on Americanism and Modernism?

    If the papacy changes, it may still be infallible, but how can it say A is true and B is false and then say B is true?

    Do you ever really address these changes?

    If not, is it because you think they are unimportant?

    But is not the average Roman Catholic’s obedience to the papacy important, and didn’t the papacy see that the separation of church and state limited its authority to a spiritual realm and took it away from the pope’s claims over the temporal realm (as in Unam Sanctum)?

    So with all of these issues and shifts, how is that any Roman Catholic could construe the infallibility of the papacy the way it was asserted in 1870?

    And if the papacy changes according to the circumstances of history, then how is that a counter-assertion to Protestantism’s lack of authority and the “mess” in which we find ourselves?

    Like

  91. Bryan,

    BC: I don’t claim that

    (3) [Jesus’ promise to Peter that the Church was founded upon him and the gates of Hell would not prevail against it]

    entails

    (1) [The RCC is the Church that Christ founded.]

    Perhaps you mean that (3) by itself does not entail (1)? If so, agreed. I’m showing only the major steps, not each individual one. Clearly, (3) would need some supporting evidence. Still and all, (3) is used as the reason to believe that the head of the church is in Rome.

    But surely you aren’t denying that (3) is the linchpin prooftext for (1), are you?

    One need not be Catholic, or embrace the authority of the Catholic Church in order to examine the data through the Catholic paradigm, including the Catholic interpretation of passages of Scripture.

    Does not the “Catholic paradigm” include the notion that there must be a highest interpretive sacramental authority, and that the pope is that authority?

    And if so, then “examining the data through the Catholic paradigm” would mean accepting, for the sake of argument, the notion that the Church’s interpretation of tradition is authoritative.

    Which again establishes the circle.

    Like

  92. BC: The following model is not a good dialectic: Person 1 attacks a straw man … I generally limit my responses only to showing that the criticisms are criticisms of straw men, so as to make evident the futility of the straw man dialectic, and stimulate a shift toward an interrogative dialectic.

    OK, so I understand better now what you are trying to do. You perceive that an argument is off-base, so you use a tactic to try to change the mode of discussion to a more productive one.

    There’s considerable merit to the goal. Clearly, question-mode is preferable to wrangling over an argument not being made. However, your attempt to bring that about isn’t working well. Instead, it creates a kind of intellectual Battleship

    Me: “motive of credibility”
    You: “miss!”

    that has the effect of

    (1) keeping the cards hidden, and
    (2) faulting the interlocutors for playing the wrong cards.

    I’m not saying that’s your goal, but that’s the dialectic that is created. This also is not a good dialectic.

    One of the contributing factors is this …

    … when I point out that your criticism is that of a straw man, you offer another straw man, and then complain that I’m not adequately helping you understand the Catholic position, as if I have some obligation to help you figure out how to construct a sound anti-Catholic argument. As I said above, I have no such obligation.

    I think you’re reading the situation wrong. Of course you don’t have an obligation to make the other person’s argument.

    But making your own position clear should not count as helping your opponent!

    For my part, I think it is fair that if you claim a straw man is being offered, then you have the obligation to say “My position is not X. It is Y instead.”

    Just the simple addition of providing Y will help us move towards question-mode, and I will try to do so where possible.

    But one more thing. You state,

    I’ve been laying out these things online for over six years. What do you want to know? … it is false that you ever have to guess my position or assumptions, because you can always ask.

    Actually, my questions to you often go unanswered. And the largest of those is my request six years ago that you offer the Sacramental v. Individual Authority argument in unambiguous symbolic language so that it can be checked. You recall that we disputed whether your argument was sound; I offered up a refutation; you claimed that I was misreading a step; I asked you to provide your argument in unambiguous symbolic language so that no misreading would take place.

    You ignored me, after multiple requests.

    After a couple of years, you finally provided a small snippet (steps 2, 3 if I recall) on GB, and then left the rest, ignoring yet another request for the entire argument.

    I don’t understand your behavior, especially in light of “you can always ask.”

    If asking for clarity counts as asking you to help out my argument, then I can’t really ask.

    Like

  93. Jeff: Instead, it creates a kind of intellectual Battleship

    Erik: LOL

    Read his Horton piece. He spells his beliefs out clearly there. He makes historical arguments for apostolic succession.

    The Circularity arises because Rome is telling us what Rome is, using a little bit of Scripture and some history to back it up. If history is your ultimate authority, however, you are in for a bumpy ride.

    http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2010/11/sola-scriptura-a-dialogue-between-michael-horton-and-bryan-cross/

    When you type in “Bryan Cross” at google this is the third thing that comes up so it is obviously a key article for understanding Cross (in terms of how often it has been accessed online).

    Like

  94. A thought on apostolic succession: I believe Bryan would concede that Jesus’ ministry and the ministry of the apostles were confirmed through miacles. Since he is so strong on the notion of apostolic succession (to the point in believing in an infallible Pope) it is interesting that he is not befuddled by the lack of miracles to confirm the “later apostles”. They seem to be ordinary men just like us. The issue of miracles seem to be good grounds to treat Jesus and the original apostles far differently than any would-be “successors”. This would trouble me if I was a Catholic. Catholics do seek miracles, up to the present day, but I don’t think we see them seeking them from Bishops and Popes. Purported miracles usually seem to involve obscure people in obscure places.

    http://www.medjugorje.org/

    Like

  95. Darryl,

    Bryan, did you talk to your faculty advisers this way? Did you point out when they took issue with something your wrote that they were addressing your person and not the argument?

    My faculty advisers were well-trained philosophers, and so had acquired the virtue of avoiding public ad hominems as responses to their interlocutor’s arguments and evidence, because they have long known that personal attacks neither refute their interlocutor’s arguments nor falsify his claims. As philosophers we teach this to our students, so of course it must be something we ourselves embody in our practice.

    Why do you interact with other people this way?

    Because of the rules of logic, by which we know that criticizing a person does not falsify his claim or refute his argument. In short, to avoid sophistry.

    As for an example of your (apparent) denial of history, what do you make of this assessment of Vatican 2 and the pre-conciliar American church from John Tracy Ellis. … So I wonder if you agree that the papacy changed its teaching on the relation between church and state at Vatican II. If the papacy did change, then what happens to the prior declarations on Americanism and Modernism? If the papacy changes, it may still be infallible, but how can it say A is true and B is false and then say B is true?

    A question about the papacy’s teaching on the relation of Church and State is not an example of my denying history.

    Regarding your question whether the papacy changed its teaching on Church and State, the answer is ‘yes,’ because the teaching of the Second Vatican Council is a development of previous teaching, and development is a kind of change, as I mentioned earlier in this thread. But this development does not contradict prior teaching. Dignitatis Humanae makes this clear in its first section, even referring to what it is doing as a development. Americanism as defined by Pope Leo XIII in Testem is still an error, and Modernism as defined by Pope X in Pascendi is still an error. There is no contradiction between the position laid out in Dignitatis Humanae and the prior doctrine.

    Do you ever really address these changes? If not, is it because you think they are unimportant?

    No, they are important. I haven’t addressed those changes as such at CTC merely because I have not needed to do so to make the arguments I have made there. However, drawing from both conciliar and preconciliar documents, I have briefly laid out the Catholic understanding of the relation of Church and State in “The Relation of Man’s Two Ends to Church and State” (2009) and in comment #7 of “Philosophy and the Papacy” (2011).

    But is not the average Roman Catholic’s obedience to the papacy important,

    Of course.

    and didn’t the papacy see that the separation of church and state limited its authority to a spiritual realm and took it away from the pope’s claims over the temporal realm (as in Unam Sanctum)?

    The Church’s teaching is not an absolute separation of Church and State, as though neither has any obligation to (or authority over) the other in any respect. (See the two links just above.) So the teaching of Vatican II does not deny or reject what Pope Boniface VIII says about the subordination of the temporal authority to the spiritual authority. However, because there are distinct ends to each sphere, the two spheres do not collapse into one (again, see the links above), and the exercise of that authority (by either sphere) needs to be in accord with the dignity of the human person and in keeping with the common good.

    So with all of these issues and shifts, how is that any Roman Catholic could construe the infallibility of the papacy the way it was asserted in 1870?

    By recognizing that there is no contradiction between preconciliar Church teaching on Church-State relation, and the teaching of Vatican II on Church-State relation.

    And if the papacy changes according to the circumstances of history, then how is that a counter-assertion to Protestantism’s lack of authority and the “mess” in which we find ourselves?

    Because the ‘changes’ are developments, as the Spirit continues to guide the Church into a deeper understanding of the Apostolic deposit and its application to changing circumstances. Developments are fully compatible with the Church having authentic teaching authority.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

    Like

  96. Jeff,

    Does not the “Catholic paradigm” include the notion that there must be a highest interpretive sacramental authority, and that the pope is that authority? And if so, then “examining the data through the Catholic paradigm” would mean accepting, for the sake of argument, the notion that the Church’s interpretation of tradition is authoritative. Which again establishes the circle.

    As I’ve already explained above, an interpretation as a possible true interpretation is not the same as an interpretation as authoritative. Locating the Church through the motives of credibility does not involve presupposing an interpretation as authoritative, but can include considering interpretations as possibly true. Hence, since locating the Church through the motives of credibility does not involve presupposing an interpretation as authoritative, it does not involve presupposing the authority of the Church. Your statements above assume (mistakenly) that the Catholic paradigm insofar as it is known by faith is the same as the Catholic paradigm insofar as it is known by the motives of credibility.

    So again your account of the motives of credibility is a straw man of the Catholic understanding of the motives of credibility.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

    Like

  97. Bryan presupposes that the Roman Catholic Church is the church that Christ itself founded through apostolic succession. Therefore it can’t be wrong when it speaks authoritatively. It’s futile to try to convince him otherwise — his paradigm won’t allow it. The only way to influence others to not adopt his paradigm is to attack it at it’s source. Most people who aren’t born into Catholicism and look at Catholic claims objectively reject them. Once you’re “in” it’s rather cult-like in its hold on people who take it seriously because it doesn’t allow itself to be questioned. Our best hope as Protestants is that it’s so big that it does a poor job of catechizing its youth (you know lots of them from school) and most Catholics end up very nominal. They do little or nothing to proselytize non-Catholics.

    Like

  98. One by one you learn to identify the pointless conversations at Old Life and are reminded why your grandma said it was impolite to discuss religion and politics at the dinner table.

    Like

  99. As Protestants how do we know that we should listen to Bryan Cross about Catholicism and Not Gary Wills? Are they not both Catholics in good standing? If their church is one, how can they have conflicting teaching and still maintain unity? What are they unified around?

    Like

  100. From today’s New York Times:

    “Garry Wills wants us to know that he really bears no animus toward priests. Truly. Some of his best friends, not to mention his mentors, are priests. His quarrel is not with priests but with the specious notion of the priesthood, which, he argues, finds no precedent in the early church and precious little warrant in the New Testament.

    Jesus never claimed for himself the mantle of priesthood, nor did he, a Jew, hail from the priestly tribe of Levi. The sole reference to Jesus as priest in the New Testament, Wills says, occurs in the Epistle to the Hebrews, an enigmatic letter of unknown provenance. The writer of the letter introduces the notion of Jesus as priest not in the line of Aaron (Levite) but in the tradition of Melchizedek, the obscure Canaanite king of Salem who makes a cameo appearance in Genesis and is mentioned again briefly in Psalm 110.

    Using his linguistic skills and his impressive command of both secondary literature and patristic sources, Wills raises doubts aplenty about “the Melchizedek myth,” and the priestly claims for Jesus in the “idiosyncratic” Epistle to the Hebrews. He notes as well the linguistic anomalies of the Genesis passage and even questions the inclusion of Hebrews in the canon of Scripture.

    The Epistle to the Hebrews also posits a novel interpretation of the Crucifixion, Wills argues, that of substitutionary atonement: the death of Jesus was necessary to placate the anger of a wrathful God against a sinful humanity. In this scheme, God demanded the blood sacrifice of his own son. Wills challenges this notion on several grounds, including its regressive “substitution of human sacrifice for animal sacrifice.” In fact, he points out, the Greek word for “sacrifice” occurs 15 times in Hebrews, more than in the rest of the New Testament combined.

    Jesus, moreover, understood himself as a prophet, not a priest. “Jesus was acting in the prophetic tradition when he cleansed the Temple, driving out the money changers,” Wills writes. “Though he attended the Temple, as any Jewish layman would, he performed no priestly acts there; presided over nothing; did not enter the Holy of Holies; made no animal sacrifice,” according to Wills. “He excoriates priests, and priests in return contrive his death.”

    So, to quote the book’s title, “why priests?” The standard Roman Catholic teaching is that all priestly authority derives from Peter, to whom Jesus bestowed “the keys of the kingdom”; the authority of every priest, according to Catholic doctrine, can be traced through a line of “apostolic succession” back to Peter, the first bishop of Rome. The teachings of Jesus, however, were radically egalitarian: “The last shall be first, and the first last.” Neither Jesus nor his followers claimed to be priests, Wills maintains, and “there is no historical evidence for Peter being bishop anywhere — least of all at Rome, where the office of bishop did not exist in the first century C.E.”

    Having attributed the abiding conundrum of the priesthood to “the Melchizedek myth” propagated in the Epistle to the Hebrews, Wills writes that this new priestly class began over the centuries to arrogate to itself powers and prerogatives unimagined by Jesus and his disciples. Although Jesus had instructed his followers not to “address any man on earth as father,” priests demanded that very ­honorific.

    Central to the priestly claims to authority, Wills says, was the importance of the sacraments, especially celebration of the eucharist, which could be performed, the church declared, only by priests. “The most striking thing about priests, in the later history of Christianity,” the author writes, “is their supposed ability to change bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus Christ.”

    This exclusivity, according to Wills, derives from Thomas Aquinas rather than Jesus. The Thomistic view of the eucharist understands the Mass as re-enacting the sacrifice of Christ, from which all other graces devolve to the believer. The church, following Aquinas, vested the power of transubstantiation — the bread and wine of holy communion actually becomes the body and blood of Christ — in the priesthood. With that magical power, the priesthood increasingly set itself apart from the laity.

    Wills argues that an alternative understanding of Jesus and the eucharist, one more consonant with the New Testament (Hebrews excepted) and informed by Augustine, sees Jesus as coming to harmonize humanity with himself. The eucharistic meal remains a meal (as it was in the first century), not a sacrifice, one that celebrates the union between Christ and his followers. “One does nothing but disrupt this harmony by interjecting superfluous intermediaries between Jesus and his body of believers,” Wills writes. “When these ‘representatives’ of Jesus to us, and of us to Jesus, take the feudal forms of hierarchy and monarchy, of priests and papacy, they affront the camaraderie of Jesus with his brothers.”

    If some elements of Wills’s thesis sound familiar, they are. In the not-so-distant past, another formidable thinker and critic — someone who also favored Augustine over Aquinas — mounted a similar case. In his 1520 “Address to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation,” Martin Luther argued against “Roman presumption” and punctured the pretensions of the clergy: “Priests, bishops or popes . . . are neither different from other Christians nor superior to them.”

    Similarly, in “The Babylonian Captivity of the Church,” published the same year, Luther wrote that “priests are not lords, but servants,” and “the sacrament does not belong to the priests, but to all men.”

    If the priesthood is superfluous, if priests are indeed an accretion of church history, where does that leave Wills himself, a cradle Catholic who spent more than five years in a Jesuit seminary preparing to become a priest? His final chapter is a model of elegant simplicity, a contrast (intended or not) to the flummery often associated with his own church. He opens by repeating that he feels “no personal animosity toward priests,” nor does he expect the priesthood to disappear. “I just want to assure my fellow Catholics that, as priests shrink in numbers,” he writes, “congregations do not have to feel they have lost all connection with the sacred just because the role of priests in their lives is contracting.”

    If the early followers of Jesus had no need for priests, Wills continues, neither do contemporary believers. “If we need fellowship in belief — and we do — we have each other,” he writes. Catholic believers can also find sustenance “in the life of other churches.”

    What does Wills believe, if not in “popes and priests and sacraments”? With legions of other Christians, he affirms the Nicene Creed; the mystical body of Christ, “which is the real meaning of the eucharist”; and the afterlife. Wills also ex­presses appreciation for the Blessed Virgin and for the saints: “I do not want to get along without the head of Augustine or the heart of Francis of Assisi to help me.”

    “There is one God, and Jesus is one of his prophets,” Wills concludes, “and I am one of his millions of followers.” For those millions, scattered across time and space, that’s an affirmation worthy of ­celebration.”

    Like

  101. In short, to avoid sophistry. . . .
    Because the ‘changes’ are developments, as the Spirit continues to guide the Church into a deeper understanding of the Apostolic deposit and its application to changing circumstances. Developments are fully compatible with the Church having authentic teaching authority. . . .
    As I’ve already explained above, an interpretation as a possible true interpretation is not the same as an interpretation as authoritative. Locating the Church through the motives of credibility does not involve presupposing an interpretation as authoritative, but can include considering interpretations as possibly true. Hence, since locating the Church through the motives of credibility does not involve presupposing an interpretation as authoritative, it does not involve presupposing the authority of the Church. Your statements above assume (mistakenly) that the Catholic paradigm insofar as it is known by faith is the same as the Catholic paradigm insofar as it is known by the motives of credibility. . . .

    And here’s to more dust in your eyes.

    This is not the dinner table, though Bryan’s mess is five times more than others Gen. 43:34, courtesy of Rabshakeh’s Catering 2 K 18:27.

    But it gets worse or better, depending on your perspective or paradigm or .. . . never mind.

    But, nevertheless, which changes in the Roman Catholic Church have I denied, and where, exactly, did I deny them? (Again, these hand-waving criticisms are worthless.)

    Perhaps you could be specific. What historical claim have I (or CTC) made, that you think does not “do justice to history”?

    Universal.
    Consent.
    Of.
    The.
    Fathers.

    On:

    Development.
    Of.
    Doctrine.

    or

    Matt.16.

    or

    Sophistry.
    AKA
    Perjury/Lying/Halftruths/Equivocation/Adjusting the Strike Zone/Relocating Home Plate/Paradigm Mongering.

    But Rome is infallible because she says so.
    And she has always said so.
    Because she is.
    It’s not circular, it’s a cul de sac. (IOW the joke’s on you as JJS would say.)

    And if you beat your head against that brick wall of a dead end long enough, your private judgement will also become as pliable, complacent and stupefied as all the other spiritual dupes and dunces drinking the wine of God’s wrath from the Roman chalice.

    Because those who answer a fool according to his paradigm will only begin to resemble the same.

    thank you

    Like

  102. Bryan, what I wondered more specifically about your interactions with SLU faculty was whether you were so quick to apply the language of paradigm to discussions about your dissertation. Or was it more the case that you and the faculty had a sense of what the academic discipline required and so questions of religious paradigms did not come up? Or is it that you challenge all philosophers who depart from Rome’s teaching by pointing out the flaw in their paradigm? I doubt that you would get anything published in a mainstream philosophical journal if you did that. I suppose you would have to use some form of commonly accepted notion of reasonableness and argumentation. And if you can do that in some contexts, why not when discussing matters here?

    I don’t mean to imply that this is some sort of academic forum, but it is strange to me that you take challenges to your reasoning almost always as either straw men or ad hominem points. Even with Jeff, who is much more charitable and gracious than I, who has really striven to follow your arguments carefully and logic, you wind up throwing the straw man flag. This doesn’t appear to be a reasonable faith. You really don’t allow anyone else to be reasonable unless they follow your logic and Rome’s teaching. As I say, the game of discussing with you is rigged.

    The problem with development of doctrine is that it shows all of the same traits that Protestant liberals displayed. Words never mean the same thing. Propositions that appear to be contradictory (of course by bad paradigmatic reasoning) are simply developments of the same truth always asserted. Another rigged game. One wonders what will happen when Rome ordains women and how development of doctrine will come to the rescue once again.

    Like

  103. Erik, if you read Cross and Wills through the paradigm of development of doctrine, it all makes sense. Either that, or get Pinkman to acquire some of the blue rock for you.

    Like

  104. Erik, thanks for that. Too bad for Wills the meal that Jesus instituted is supposed to remind of us his death, and his body and blood. Too bad for the writer that Luther also believed in the substitutionary atonement. On the atonement, Wills may be closer to Rome’s priests than he knows.

    The Redeemer of the world! In him has been revealed in a new and more wonderful way the fundamental truth concerning creation to which the Book of Genesis gives witness when it repeats several times: “God saw that it was good”38. The good has its source in Wisdom and Love. In Jesus Christ the visible world which God created for man39-the world that, when sin entered, “was subjected to futility”40-recovers again its original link with the divine source of Wisdom and Love. Indeed, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son”41. As this link was broken in the man Adam, so in the Man Christ it was reforged42. Are we of the twentieth century not convinced of the over poweringly eloquent words of the Apostle of the Gentiles concerning the “creation (that) has been groaning in travail together until now”43 and “waits with eager longing for the revelation of the sons of God”44, the creation that “was subjected to futility”? Does not the previously unknown immense progress-which has taken place especially in the course of this century-in the field of man’s dominion over the world itself reveal-to a previously unknown degree-that manifold subjection “to futility”? It is enough to recall certain phenomena, such as the threat of pollution of the natural environment in areas of rapid industrialization, or the armed conflicts continually breaking out over and over again, or the prospectives of self-destruction through the use of atomic, hydrogen, neutron and similar weapons, or the lack of respect for the life of the unborn. The world of the new age, the world of space flights, the world of the previously unattained conquests of science and technology-is it not also the world “groaning in travail”45 that “waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God”46?

    In its penetrating analysis of “the modern world”, the Second Vatican Council reached that most important point of the visible world that is man, by penetrating like Christ the depth of human consciousness and by making contact with the inward mystery of man, which in Biblical and non-Biblical language is expressed by the word “heart”. Christ, the Redeemer of the world, is the one who penetrated in a unique unrepeatable way into the mystery of man and entered his “heart”. Rightly therefore does the Second Vatican Council teach: “The truth is that only in the mystery of the Incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light. For Adam, the first man, was a type of him who was to come (Rom 5:14), Christ the Lord. Christ the new Adam, in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and of his love, fully reveals man to himself and brings to light his most high calling”. And the Council continues: “He who is the ‘image of the invisible God’ (Col 1:15), is himself the perfect man who has restored in the children of Adam that likeness to God which had been disfigured ever since the first sin. Human nature, by the very fact that is was assumed, not absorbed, in him, has been raised in us also to a dignity beyond compare. For, by his Incarnation, he, the son of God, in a certain way united himself with each man. He worked with human hands, he thought with a human mind. He acted with a human will, and with a human heart he loved. Born of the Virgin Mary, he has truly been made one of us, like to us in all things except sin”47, he, the Redeemer of man. . . .

    In reality, the name for that deep amazement at man’s worth and dignity is the Gospel, that is to say: the Good News. It is also called Christianity. This amazement determines the Church’s mission in the world and, perhaps even more so, “in the modern world”. This amazement, which is also a conviction and a certitude-at its deepest root it is the certainty of faith, but in a hidden and mysterious way it vivifies every aspect of authentic humanism-is closely connected with Christ. It also fixes Christ’s place-so to speak, his particular right of citizenship-in the history of man and mankind. Unceasingly contemplating the whole of Christ’s mystery, the Church knows with all the certainty of faith that the Redemption that took place through the Cross has definitively restored his dignity to man and given back meaning to his life in the world, a meaning that was lost to a considerable extent because of sin. And for that reason, the Redemption was accomplished in the paschal mystery, leading through the Cross and death to Resurrection.

    Like

  105. Darryl,

    what I wondered more specifically about your interactions with SLU faculty was whether you were so quick to apply the language of paradigm to discussions about your dissertation.

    My dissertation was in part about paradigms. So, yes, discussions about my dissertation made use of the language of paradigm.

    Or is it that you challenge all philosophers who depart from Rome’s teaching by pointing out the flaw in their paradigm?

    As I assume you know, philosophy and sacred theology are not the same discipline. The realm of reason is not identical to the realm informed by supernatural faith in divine revelation. So my arguments and objections to the positions of other philosophers (as philosophers) are not based on appeals to “Rome’s teaching.”

    I suppose you would have to use some form of commonly accepted notion of reasonableness and argumentation. And if you can do that in some contexts, why not when discussing matters here?

    I do. I use logic. Does that not qualify here as a mutually accepted guide for “reasonableness and argumentation”?

    but it is strange to me that you take challenges to your reasoning almost always as either straw men or ad hominem points.

    That’s because these challenges are straw men and ad hominems (criticisms of my person, rather than the evidence or argumentation I’m presenting). If you disagree, then please point to one challenge I referred to as a straw man or personal criticism, that wasn’t actually a straw man or personal criticism.

    Even with Jeff, who is much more charitable and gracious than I, who has really striven to follow your arguments carefully and logic, you wind up throwing the straw man flag.

    That’s because the position he is criticizing is not the Catholic position regarding the relation of the motives of credibility to faith. It is a straw man, for the reasons I’ve explained above.

    This doesn’t appear to be a reasonable faith.

    It wouldn’t be reasonable only if in response to veridical presentations of the Catholic faith I was claiming that they are “straw men,” or if in response to objections to arguments and evidence I was claiming that these are criticisms of my person.

    You really don’t allow anyone else to be reasonable unless they follow your logic

    My logic? Are you are relativist about logic? Do you think ad hominems really do refute arguments and falsify claims? In “your logic” is criticizing straw men the way to reach truth? If you’re a relativist about logic, then how could you request me to adopt a “commonly accepted notion of reasonableness and argumentation”? But if you’re not a relativist about logic, then don’t you also agree that personal criticisms don’t refute arguments or falsify claims, and that attacking straw men is a fallacy?

    You wrote:

    The problem with development of doctrine is that it shows all of the same traits that Protestant liberals displayed. Words never mean the same thing. Propositions that appear to be contradictory (of course by bad paradigmatic reasoning) are simply developments of the same truth always asserted.

    That is a straw man of the Catholic teaching concerning the development of doctrine, according to which development is limited by the absolute obligation to what has already been received and declared by the Church:

    Hence, too, that meaning of the sacred dogmas is ever to be maintained which has once been declared by Holy mother Church, and there must never be any abandonment of this sense under the pretext or in the name of a more profound understanding.

    May understanding, knowledge and wisdom increase as ages and centuries roll along, and greatly and vigorously flourish, in each and all, in the individual and the whole Church: but this only in its own proper kind, that is to say, in the same doctrine, the same sense, and the same understanding. (First Vatican Council, Session 3, 3.14)

    If you think one of the developments advanced by the Second Vatican Council violates this, you’ll need to lay out an argument showing that to be the case.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

    Like

  106. Erik,

    As Protestants how do we know that we should listen to Bryan Cross about Catholicism and Not Gary Wills? Are they not both Catholics in good standing?

    I’m not sure if your question is merely rhetorical or not, but if it isn’t, the answer to your question can be found in comment #179 of the CTC article “The Church Fathers on Transubstantiation.”

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

    Like

  107. Oh boy.
    Come Monday morning, more of the same old same old from Mr. Cross.
    Assertions of straw men and ad hominem transubstantiate into valid arguments in the OLTS combox.
    And of course to say so, is an ad hom; to point out that the pope has no epistemological, historical or theological underwear that he can call his own is rude and uncharitable, Hans Christian notwithstanding.

    But again, the real question before the house, the mouse and the loyal boorish lurking incognito among the OLTS readers is how does one get from Vincent of Lerins to Ignatius of Loyola? Logically?
    From ‘always, everywhere and everyone’ to ‘if the hierarchy says black is white, so be it’?
    We know there was no universal consensus of the fathers on the supremacy and infallibility of Rome. And we know there was no universal consent of the fathers on The Development of Doctrine.

    And yet.
    And yet we know that Rome to day will claim both Vincent and Ignatius universally consented to the papacy ala Vatican I long after their day.

    According to DevlopDoct:
    Some Traditions are More Equal than others.
    Some Traditions are More Egregious than others.

    Logic? Truth? Reality? Paradigm?
    “When I use a word,” Humpty-Dumpty said, “It means just what the Pope chooses it to mean—neither more nor less”.

    But enough boorean logic for now. The real answer is that ‘ale man, ale’s the stuff to drink for them whom it hurts to think’.

    Can we please go home now, Toto?
    I seem to have a performative paradigm hangover.

    Like

  108. Bryan,

    Regarding you & Wills, I don’t see how that comment you referred to is relevant to my question. You are both Catholics in good standing. Neither of you are bishops. He actually has a better resume than you (no offense intended, he’s just been writing for decades). Why can’t I choose to follow his intellectual take on Catholicism rather than yours and CTC’s?

    What would be some examples of Catholic doctrines that you accept on faith rather than arrive at through logic? Whenever we criticize Catholicism you claim we are making logical errors. This can’t be true of every possible criticism of Catholicism, can it?

    Like

  109. Bryan, this is pointless. You seem to think that logic is the only method by which communication of any meaningful kind can occur. There goes a conversation at the tavern and pillow talk between husband and wife.

    As for a relativist view of logic, do you actually think that there is only one logic in the entire history of the human race. Too bad you didn’t read Gordon Clark before you converted. You might still be a Protestant.

    Like

  110. “…and pillow talk between husband and wife.”

    Oh boy is that inviting comments that I will wisely refrain from making.

    Shooting down the logic of a question could be a good response. It could also mean the one being questioned doesn’t really have a good response, too.

    Like

  111. “this is pointless” but oh so entertaining… well, not really. It is actually very disappointing that BC won’t engage in meaningful dialog. In grad school, I remember going over to the philosophy seminars and listening to new grad students embarrass themselves by devolving into the kind of pedantry on display here.

    Substantive points have been raised (here and in recent threads) regarding the historicity of apostolic succession, the shift in doctrine through time, and evolution of the understanding of what is entailed by the “real presence” when it comes to communion and the medieval doctrine of transubstantiation. The responses have been tendentious at best but more generally evasive.

    The business about paradigms is particularly curious coming from someone claiming to be arguing for the truth of a system – paradigms are terrible ways of establishing the truth. The problem with the data described by a paradigm is that it is underdetermined – lots of mutually exclusive explanations can fit the data points. This is obvious in the world of science (take the interpretations and formalisms as they apply to quantum mechanics as a classic (ahem) example). The overthrow of a paradigm – even in the case of a simple empirical system – is not uniquely determined by logical consistency. Indeed, it isn’t clear that logic can lead to the shift from one paradigm to the other.

    So how does one compare paradigms – what is the self evident truth that allows one to determine that one paradigm is in fact superior to another? Is it empirical consistency? If so, then you have to deal with underdetermination. Is it simplicity (e.g. Ockham’s razor)? Or is it something else entirely?

    Whatever standard you use to choose between paradigms is really your ultimate authority – if a reliance on tradition leads me to embrace the RCC and thus the Magisterium, the Magisterium is an authority only insofar as I accept the RCC paradigm – If I am subsequently convinced that the EOC has the better claim on tradition (and that is my standard for choosing my paradigm), then there goes the authority of the Magisterium. The real authority is the one I appeal to to choose from among paradigms (another form of Euthyphro’s challenge if you will). Of course the same thing applies to protestants and sola scripture. Something convinces me of that – that something is my ultimate authority.

    Now it could be that one simply assumes by fiat to cast one’s lot with Sola Scripture or the magisterium – full stop. But then how could one ever move from that position to another? You really can’t unless you first accept a different authority (reason? empiricism?). All this to say that those in the CtC bunch who are so proud of their new found authority (and a cursory reading of site reveals an embarrassing degree of pride) really are standing on shaky ground – the individual believer is left to make the choice (not so different from a protestant applying an biblical hermeneutic really).

    OK, I’m rambling now. To wrap this up, BC strikes me as a poser who covers up his insecurities with pedantry. Maybe I’m wrong, and he is perfectly secure in his stance and really is just pedantic by nature. Either way it is tiresome and unilluminating. This doesn’t make his claims untrue – it just makes him a terrible apologist. His use of “paradigm” to compare Reformed to Catholic to Orthodox approaches to Christianity and establish the truth of the tradition and validity of its source of authority is ironic as it necessarily leads either to relativism (or its close cousin fideism) or appeal to a higher authority to distinguish paradigms. Frankly I find it very hard to believe that he has examined all of the historical data and found a unique solution that led inexorably to the catholic “paradigm”.

    Like

  112. Thank for yours, sbd,

    OK, I’m rambling now. To wrap this up, BC strikes me as a poser who covers up his insecurities with pedantry.

    Ahem, ad hom.

    Frankly I find it very hard to believe that he has examined all of the historical data and found a unique solution that led inexorably to the catholic “paradigm”.

    Bryan can “examine” all the theological, historical and reasonable data in the world and still not come to the truth, because he has presupposed that his paradigm rules them all, much more faith in Christ alone as found in Scripture alone is of sovereign grace alone. That all the philosophy in the world cannot avail to understand or appropriate. To that end we pity and pray for the man.

    But we also call his gospel what it is, a vicious infallible paradigm that presupposes an ecclesiastical idolatry; that God cannot preserve his church through the truth set forth in the infallible Scriptures by the power of the Holy Spirit working faith in the heart of his people through the medium of mere preaching, but rather that a hierarchical, mechanical, genealogical and sacramental semi pelagian system, which walks not by faith, but by sight is needed. Voila the Magisterium.

    Like

  113. Bryan, you’ve indicated that my argument above is a “bad argument.” If by that you mean that I’ve left out steps or that I have not used rigorous language, then I agree. But if by that you mean that the omitted steps cannot be filled in, or that rigorous language is not at the back of it, I disagree.

    In what follows, I hope to fill in those steps. But first, a joke (from a book by the same title):


    Six Blind Elephants were discussing what wise men were like (never having seen one). Failing to agree, they decided to find one and determine what it was like by direct experience. The first blind elephant felt the wise man, and declared, “Wise men are flat.” After feeling the wise man, the other blind elephants agreed.

    One’s conclusions are strongly colored by one’s method. I hope against hope to persuade you that your conclusions about the Roman Catholic Church have been strongly colored by your method.

    Like

  114. Here, I will attempt to show circularity in the motives of credibility adduced for Catholic claims about the Church’s authority.

    The Claim

    The Catholic Catechism says this about the Pope:

    When Christ instituted the Twelve, “he constituted [them] in the form of a college or permanent assembly, at the head of which he placed Peter, chosen from among them.”398 Just as “by the Lord’s institution, St. Peter and the rest of the apostles constitute a single apostolic college, so in like fashion the Roman Pontiff, Peter’s successor, and the bishops, the successors of the apostles, are related with and united to one another.”399

    881 The Lord made Simon alone, whom he named Peter, the “rock” of his Church. He gave him the keys of his Church and instituted him shepherd of the whole flock.400 “The office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter was also assigned to the college of apostles united to its head.”401 This pastoral office of Peter and the other apostles belongs to the Church’s very foundation and is continued by the bishops under the primacy of the Pope.

    882 The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter’s successor, “is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful.”402 “For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered…”403

    The mission of the Magisterium is linked to the definitive nature of the covenant established by God with his people in Christ. It is this Magisterium’s task to preserve God’s people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error. Thus, the pastoral duty of the Magisterium is aimed at seeing to it that the People of God abides in the truth that liberates. To fulfill this service, Christ endowed the Church’s shepherds with the charism of infallibility in matters of faith and morals. The exercise of this charism takes several forms:

    891 “The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful – who confirms his brethren in the faith he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals. . . . The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter’s successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium,” above all in an Ecumenical Council.418 When the Church through its supreme Magisterium proposes a doctrine “for belief as being divinely revealed,”419 and as the teaching of Christ, the definitions “must be adhered to with the obedience of faith.”420 This infallibility extends as far as the deposit of divine Revelation itself.

    Much of this language comes from lumen gentium, produced by Vatican I, and one of its central warrants is Matt 16.

    We can identify here several different claims:

    (1) The Church was founded upon Peter.
    (2) Peter alone is the “rock” of the Church.
    (3) Peter passed his office as foundation of the church to his successor.
    (4) Peter’s office as foundation of the church has continued in his successors to this day.
    (5) This foundation entails the charism of infallibility.

    The Investigation

    Now we ask, how might one come to believe these claims? In the Catholic paradigm, the Motives of Credibility serve to make the Church’s claims plausible to reason. They cannot compel faith, but they can give the honest seeker reason to find the Church’s claims about itself credible.

    My argument is that there is no warrant for some of the above claims *other than* the RCC’s claims about itself. Hence, there is a circularity: In order to find the Church’s claims about itself reasonable, one must warrant those claims with the Church’s claims about itself.

    Method

    I will lay out each claim with its warrant as offered by Catholics. The warrants will not be treated with skepticism. Further, any warrants which rest on universal Christian beliefs (rather than specifically Catholic beliefs) will be accepted as givens.

    Wherever the warrant for each claim rests on specifically Roman Catholic Church teaching, circularity will be observed.

    Like

  115. Claim (1): Christ founded the church upon Peter.

    Warrant: Matt 16.18: “You are Petros, and upon this Petra, I will build my church.” (sub-warrant: the equivalence of Petros, Petra in Aramaic).

    This claim is reasonably held from the text of Scripture itself. Some Protestants dispute, as did Augustine, but taking a non-skeptical approach to the Catholic claim holds it to be non-circularly warranted.

    Claim (2): Peter alone is the “rock” of the Church.

    Warrant: John 21.15 – 17; Early Church Fathers.

    Already, however, we involve ourselves in difficulty. John 21 does not prima facie state that Peter is any sort of rock, much less the only rock; and we cannot rely on the Catholic teaching about this passage or we have hit circularity.

    The ECFs, likewise, grant Peter some level of primacy (for which reason the Eastern Church calls the Bishop in Rome “first among equals”), but the ECFs do not unanimously make Peter the only rock of the Church. (E.g.: Jerome, Against Jovinianus 1.26)

    Nor did Paul, it might seem: “…you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone…” (Eph 3).

    So we need some Selection Rule to decide which ECFs are determinative here. On the basis of this rule, we might see which ECFs are to be listened to on this matter.

    Unfortunately, no selection rule has been offered other than to point to the ECFs that *do* affirm sole Petrine petracy.

    Here, one can only adopt the Catholic paradigm by accepting as warrant that Catholics have correctly selected which ECFs to use to guide them.

    We have reach a point of circularity. The warrant for the claim rests on the church’s opinions about which ECFs are to be listened to.

    Claim (3): Peter passed his office as foundation of the church to his successor.

    Warrant: ECFs.

    If we accept that Peter had an office that included being the sole foundation of the church, then we must ask whether Peter’s successors had the same office.

    This claim is contested (e.g. Mathison, Response to Cross and Judisch), but its warrant appears to be Irenaeus with no particular dissent among the ECFs. Without involving skepticism, we can reasonably say that this claim is non-circularly warranted.

    Like

  116. Claim (4): Peter’s office as foundation of the church continues in his successors today.

    Warrant: Church teaching.

    No Scripture attests to this; no ECFs do either. The only warrant for believing this is to accept the church’s teaching on this matter as a given.

    Hence this lecture:

    The Church has always held that Peter’s authority—like the authority of the apostles in general—was passed down to his successors. Otherwise, passages like Matt 16:13-20 and others which speak to us of the authority of the apostles are simply matters of historical curiosity for us.

    (Bergsma, The Biblical Basis for the Papacy).

    Is that a problem? On this particular point, Yes.

    On any other matter — say, perpetual virginity — we might accept church teaching as credible for the sake of argument and consider whether the conclusions are plausible given that assumption.

    But on this matter — the credibility of church claims about itself — we are forbidden from assuming anything one way or the other about the credibility of church teaching. There must be independent warrant to arrive at the view that church teaching about itself is credible. Otherwise, we hit circularity.

    And so it is here. There are no ECFs that guarantee succession of Peter’s chair in Rome until the Lord returns; and there are no Scripture verses that guarantee this either.

    We are left only with Roman Catholic doctrine to warrant this claim, which leaves us at a point of circularity.

    Claim (5): The foundation of the Church upon Peter entails the charism of infallibility.

    Warrant: Church teaching, specifically Vatican I.

    This is the least warranted of all of the claims in the CCC, for at least one bishop of Rome disputed infallibility (though not, according to church teaching, infallibly!).

    As mentioned in a previous post, no other group of Christians other than Roman Catholics accept that the Bishop in Rome has the charism of infallibility. It is only Roman Catholic Church teaching that holds it so.

    So we have hit a third point of circularity.

    Conclusion

    Circularity does not mean that the conclusions are wrong; merely that they are unsoundly derived. Bryan, in your case, you state that you were drawn into the Catholic Church by considering historical claims about Rome’s authority, and that you were moved by (a) the necessity of having a highest sacramental authority, and (b) the necessity of having the form of church government that is best as preserving church unity.

    You considered the world through the Catholic paradigm, and it seemed credible enough. You believed.

    I would suggest that by adopting the Catholic paradigm for the sake of argument, you drew yourself into a mental circularity in which the Catholic conclusions would necessarily follow.

    In particular, the Catholic selection rule for early church fathers highlights those who agree, but disallows those who do not. Likewise, the Catholic interpretation of tradition is always and ever bent towards the point of view that the Bishop of Rome is the lawful steward of the deposit of faith.

    This makes it difficult to admit some basic things, like the fact that the Western Church did, indeed, add the filioque and thereby altered the traditional teaching of the church — not developed it, not rediscovered it, but changed it.

    A paradigm, as you know, attempts to have broad explanatory power using a paucity of initial assumptions. Here, the Catholic paradigm fails to have broad explanatory power for a simple reason: The paradigm itself is circularly derived.

    Because it is possible for paradigms to be poisoned by circularity, we often look for falsifiers to test the paradigm against. In this case, three powerful falsifiers show the problems with the Catholic paradigm:

    * The teaching from the 2nd Council of Nicea that we should proskuneo before icons of saints or depictions of Jesus is directly contrary to the precise language of the 2nd Commandment in the LXX (Ex. 20.5) and reiterated by Jesus in Matt 4.10.
    * Jesus’ teaching that we should not store up treasures for ourselves on earth has been abundantly disregarded by the Vatican.
    * Paul’s teaching that we should not forbid marriage, and that candidates for eldership should be tested by their family life, has been disregarded by the Roman Catholic Church.

    “Whose interpretation?” Plain sense. God did not give His people His Word, that it might be disregarded because of “authority.”

    I do not say these things to be anti-Catholic. It can be the part of a friend to deliver bad news and to suggest a new course is needed. This is my appeal to you: assuming that you remain within the Catholic Church (and there is merit in loyalty), reconsider your stance towards church teachings about itself. There is a tight circle at the foundation.

    Like

  117. Good comments, guys.

    Regarding the ECF’s not being unanimous:

    “Justin argued that one of the differences between the old covenant and the new was that the priesthood had been superseded and ‘we [the church as a whole] are the true high-priestly race of God.”

    Jaroslav Pelikan, “The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600)” p. 25

    Like

  118. Darryl says this: Bryan, this is pointless. You seem to think that logic is the only method by which communication of any meaningful kind can occur. There goes a conversation at the tavern and pillow talk between husband and wife.

    As for a relativist view of logic, do you actually think that there is only one logic in the entire history of the human race. Too bad you didn’t read Gordon Clark before you converted. You might still be a Protestant.

    Darryl is getting haunted by the logician ghosts of Gordon Clark. We all have antagonists in our lives that just won’t leave us alone.

    Like

  119. Jeff,

    Drawing five claims from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and arguing that there is no warrant for those claims outside the Church itself, does not show that the movement from the motives of credibility by which one comes to identify the Church, to Catholic faith, is circular. If you want to criticize the *Catholic* position regarding the relation of the motives of credibility to faith (rather than a position of your own making) you need to start with what Catholics refer to as the motives of credibility, not with articles of the Catholic faith. Otherwise you are criticizing a straw man.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

    Like

  120. Bryan,

    … does not show that the movement from the motives of credibility by which one comes to identify the Church, to Catholic faith, is circular.

    Your defense is a straw man. I am not speaking of the movement from motives of credibility to faith, but of accepting the motives of credibility as credible in the first place.

    One must first accept them as credible before they can function as motives of credibility.

    Like

  121. Bryan,
    I asked this before and maybe you missed it, or would rather not answer (which is fine) but I am curious how you have the time to provide so many lengthy answers on this and other blogs. Are you a professor somewhere? Working? Looking?

    thanks,
    David

    Like

  122. David,

    Appropriately Bryan works as a straw man for the famers in his area. During the winter there are no crops so he has ample time for blogging and commenting. Come summer he will be back in the fields.

    Like

  123. Jeff, I suspected a straw-man assertion was coming. I don’t know if you’ve looked at the Catholic Encyclopedia on motives of credibility. Here’s an excerpt:

    (b) These motives of credibility may be briefly stated as follows: in the Old Testament considered not as an inspired book, but merely as a book having historical value, we find detailed the marvellous dealings of God with a particular nation to whom He repeatedly reveals Himself; we read of miracles wrought in their favour and as proofs of the truth of the revelation He makes; we find the most sublime teaching and the repeated announcement of God’s desire to save the world from sin and its consequences. And more than all we find throughout the pages of this book a series of hints, now obscure, now clear, of some wondrous person who is to come as the world’s saviour; we find it asserted at one time that he is man, at others that he is God Himself. When we turn to the New Testament we find that it records the birth, life, and death of One Who, while clearly man, also claimed to be God, and Who proved the truth of His claim by His whole life, miracles, teachings, and death, and finally by His triumphant resurrection. We find, moreover, that He founded a Church which should, so He said, continue to the end of time, which should serve as the repository of His teaching, and should be the means of applying to all men the fruits of the redemption He had wrought. When we come to the subsequent history of this Church we find it speedily spreading everywhere, and this in spite of its humble origin, its unworldly teaching, and the cruel persecution which it meets at the hands of the rulers of this world. And as the centuries pass we find this Church battling against heresies schisms, and the sins of her own people—nay, of her own rulers—and yet continuing ever the same, promulgating ever the same doctrine, and putting before men the same mysteries of the life, death and resurrection of the world’s Saviour, Who had, so she taught, gone before to prepare a home for those who while on earth should have believed in Him and fought the good fight. But if the history of the Church since New-Testament times thus wonderfully confirms the New Testament itself, and if the New Testament so marvellously completes the Old Testament, these books must really contain what they claim to contain, viz. Divine revelation. And more than all, that Person Whose life and death were so minutely foretold in the Old Testament, and Whose story, as told in the New Testament, so perfectly corresponds with its prophetic delineation in the Old Testament, must be what He claimed to be, viz. the Son of God. His work, therefore, must be Divine. The Church which He founded must also be Divine and the repository and guardian of His teaching. Indeed, we can truly say that for every truth of Christianity which we believe Christ Himself is our testimony, and we believe in Him because the Divinity He claimed rests upon the concurrent testimony of His miracles, His prophecies His personal character, the nature of His doctrine, the marvellous propagation of His teaching in spite of its running counter to flesh and blood, the united testimony of thousands of martyrs, the stories of countless saints who for His sake have led heroic lives, the history of the Church herself since the Crucifixion, and, perhaps more remarkable than any, the history of the papacy from St. Peter to Pius X.

    (c) These testimonies are unanimous; they all point in one direction, they are of every age, they are clear and simple, and are within the grasp of the humblest intelligence.

    That line at point c does just the opposite of what it asserts. Curious that in this article on faith, Rome does not appear to have an account of grace that features the work of the Holy Spirit:

    The genesis of faith in the individual soul

    (a) Many receive their faith in their infancy, to others it comes later in life, and its genesis is often misunderstood. Without encroaching upon the article REVELATION, we may describe the genesis of faith in the adult mind somewhat as follows: Man being endowed with reason, reasonable investigation must precede faith; now we can prove by reason the existence of God, the immortality of the soul, and the origin and destiny of man; but from these facts there follows the necessity of religion, and true religion must be the true worship of the true God not according to our ideas, but according to what He Himself has revealed. But can God reveal Himself to us? And, granting that He can, where is this revelation to be found? The Bible is said to contain it; does investigation confirm the Bible’s claim? We will take but one point: the Old Testament looks forward, as we have already seen, to One Who is to come and Who is God; the New Testament shows us One Who claimed to be the fulfilment of the prophecies and to be God; this claim He confirmed by His life, death, and resurrection by His teaching, miracles, and prophecies. He further claimed to have founded a Church which should enshrine His revelation and should be the infallible guide for all who wished to carry out His will and save their souls. Which of the numerous existing Churches is His? It must have certain definite characteristics or notes. It must be One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic, it must claim infallible teaching power. None but the Holy, Roman, Catholic, and Apostolic Church can claim these characteristics, and her history is an irrefragable proof of her Divine mission. If, then, she be the true Church, her teaching must be infallible and must be accepted.

    (b) Now what is the state of the inquirer who has come thus far? He has proceeded by pure reason, and, if on the grounds stated he makes his submission to the authority of the Catholic Church and believes her doctrines, he has only human, reasonable, fallible, faith. Later on he may see reason to question the various steps in his line of argument, he may hesitate at some truth taught by the Church, and he may withdraw the assent he has given to her teaching authority. In other words, he has not Divine faith at all. For Divine faith is supernatural both in the principle which elicits the acts and in the objects or truths upon which it falls. The principle which elicits assent to a truth which is beyond the grasp of the human mind must be that same mind illumined by a light superior to the light of reason, viz. the light of faith, and since, even with this light of faith, the intellect remains human, and the truth to be believed remains still obscure, the final assent of the intellect must come from the will assisted by Divine grace, as seen above. But both this Divine light and this Divine grace are pure gifts of God, and are consequently only bestowed at His good pleasure. It is here that the heroism of faith comes in; our reason will lead us to the door of faith but there it leaves us; and God asks of us that earnest wish to believe for the sake of the reward — “I am thy reward exceeding great” — which will allow us to repress the misgivings of the intellect and say, “I believe, Lord, help Thou my unbelief.” As St. Augustine expresses it, “Ubi defecit ratio, ibi est fidei aedificatio” (Sermo ccxlvii, P.L., V, 1157 — “Where reason fails there faith builds up”).

    (c) When this act of submission has been made, the light of faith floods the soul and is even reflected back upon those very motives which had to be so laboriously studied in our search after the truth; and even those preliminary truths which precede all investigation e.g. the very existence of God, become now the object of our faith.

    No sense here of the unfalsifiable nature of a claim. I understand that unfalsifiability (like I know any philosophy) may give too much credit to human reason. Even so, it sure looks to me like Rome is on the same epistemological footing as Van Tillianism (which Cross inconsistently — straw man, wrong paradigm — condemns).

    Like

  124. Jeff,

    I am not speaking of the movement from motives of credibility to faith, but of accepting the motives of credibility as credible in the first place.

    The five claims you drew from the Catechism do not belong to the motives of credibility. They are articles of faith.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

    Like

  125. DGH: Yes.

    Bryan: I didn’t say that the five were motives of credibility. I said that they were claims that the Catholic church makes about itself, and it supplies “motives of credibility” to warrant those claims. The motives are the warrants, not the claims themselves.

    This is exactly in line with Church teaching:

    When we speak of the motives of credibility of revealed truth we mean the evidence that the things asserted are revealed truths. In other words, the credibility of the statements made is correlative with and proportionate to the credentials of the authority who makes them. Now the credentials of God are indubitable, for the very idea of God involves that of omniscience and of the Supreme Truth. Hence, what God says is supremely credible, though not necessarily supremely intelligible for us. Here, however, the real question is not as to the credentials of God or the credibility of what He says, but as to the credibility of the statement that God has spoken. In other words who or what is the authority for this statement, and what credentials does this authority show? What are the motives of credibility of the statement that God has revealed this or that? — Cath En, Faith.

    When we examine those warrants, we find that several warrants are dependent on Church teaching for their probative force. Hence, circularity.

    You misread my argument because you were looking for a category error, methinks.

    Like

  126. Jeff,

    I didn’t say that the five were motives of credibility. I said that they were claims that the Catholic church makes about itself, and it supplies “motives of credibility” to warrant those claims.

    The motives of credibility do not warrant articles of faith. That’s not their purpose. So this whole line of criticism you have raised (just above) is criticizing a straw man.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

    Like

  127. Jeff,

    Thanks for taking the time to formulate the argument, it is instructive for many of us regardless of Bryan’s response. Bryan’s constant insistence on ad hominems and straw men starts to look like mere cavalier dismissals, especially in your case where he seems to hide behind the fallacies he alleges and refuses to deal with the substance of your argument.

    Like

  128. Man oh man this gets wearying… the wonders of theological circularity, a system of doctrine that is solid by the mere charm of implicit faith (the Teflon coating): “Thus saith Rome.” Doesn’t make sense? It won’t unless you enter in and close the door tightly. All disputes resolved and all questions resolved. Peace of mind…

    Like

  129. Why does a dialogue with Bryan remind me of trying to title a vehicle at the County Recorder’s office? Boy, you had better fill out the back of that old title just right or you are getting nowhere.

    Like

  130. A few mind-blowers from the article that D.G. cites:

    “the history of the Church herself since the Crucifixion, and, perhaps more remarkable than any, the history of the papacy from St. Peter to Pius X.”

    Keep in mind one of the things previously mentioned is the resurrection of Christ. Yet Rome claims the history of the papacy is “perhaps more remarkable”. Let me get this straight — a line of men passing “authority” from one to another is more remarkable than a man rising from the dead?!

    “He may hesitate at some truth taught by the Church, and he may withdraw the assent he has given to her teaching authority. In other words, he has not Divine faith at all.”

    So you can believe all of the things mentioned in the Bible (that the author presupposes only require reason) but if you don’t assent to all of the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church you lack “divine faith”?

    Wow.

    Like

  131. Rome is probably too big to qualiy as a cult but how is this (and the way Bryan communicates here) not cult-like? It reminds me of the 1980 movie “Serial” about California nuttiness. I remember how Joanie joined a cult. I couldn’t find that clip, but I could find this one:

    Like

  132. Bryan: The motives of credibility do not warrant articles of faith. That’s not their purpose.

    Cath En: When we speak of the motives of credibility of revealed truth we mean the evidence that the things asserted are revealed truths. In other words, the credibility of the statements made is correlative with and proportionate to the credentials of the authority who makes them … Here, however, the real question is not as to the credentials of God or the credibility of what He says, but as to the credibility of the statement that God has spoken.

    That’s what a warrant is, Bryan. We are examining the question, what is the credibility of the statement that God has spoken and speaks through the Roman Catholic Church?

    The five points above are the linchpin to that question. Without Petrine foundation, without exclusive Petrine foundation, without transmission of charism, without succession, and without infallibility, we have no reason to believe that what the RCC says is what God says.

    And so we ask, what warrants this belief?

    In other words, while the motives of credibility do not provide warrant for articles of faith in general, the do (according to the Catholic Encyclopedia) provide warrant for the particular articles of faith I’ve outlined above.

    The teachings I’ve cited above are the teachings of the Church about itself, which is precisely what the MoC is supposed to warrant. If those teachings are not credible, nothing else is.

    Like

  133. From the dictionary at CatholicCulture.org:

    Motives of Credibility

    The rational grounds for accepting divine revelation in general, or of the divine establishment of the Catholic Church in particular. These grounds are also called the preambles of faith. They include the evidence from reason that God exists; that what he reveals is believable because he is all-wise and true; and that he did actually make a revelation because he performed and continues to perform verifiable miracles testifying to his having spoken.

    The five listed points are the Catholic claims about her divine establishment. The motives of credibility are intended to give reasons for believing in that divine establishment.

    Like

  134. Erik: but if you don’t assent to all of the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church you lack “divine faith”?

    It’s even more than this. You must assent to all of the teachings even if you don’t know what they all are. This is why the Confession condemns “implicit faith” as being contrary to reason and liberty of conscience both (WCoF 20.2).

    Like

  135. Jeff,

    So they are saying, “just trust us”, and then something like the priest abuse scandal comes along. I think I’ll trust, but verify, with my minister.

    I can’t say that I feel too bad that “church goods”, as one CTC commenter has called them, are being looted by plaintiff’s attorneys.

    Like

  136. Bryan,

    From the CathEncyc (which Darryl previously cites):
    “But if the history of the Church since New-Testament times thus wonderfully confirms the New Testament itself, and if the New Testament so marvellously completes the Old Testament, these books must really contain what they claim to contain, viz. Divine revelation. And more than all, that Person Whose life and death were so minutely foretold in the Old Testament, and Whose story, as told in the New Testament, so perfectly corresponds with its prophetic delineation in the Old Testament, must be what He claimed to be, viz. the Son of God. His work, therefore, must be Divine. The Church which He founded must also be Divine and the repository and guardian of His teaching.”

    I’m sure Catholics and Protestants can agree with the “substance” of the description of MOC:
    “But if the history of the Church since New-Testament times thus wonderfully confirms the New Testament itself, and if the New Testament so marvellously completes the Old Testament, these books must really contain what they claim to contain, viz. Divine revelation. And more than all, that Person Whose life and death were so minutely foretold in the Old Testament, and Whose story, as told in the New Testament, so perfectly corresponds with its prophetic delineation in the Old Testament, must be what He claimed to be, viz. the Son of God.”

    The rub, however, would be HOW does one come to the rational grounds to affirm all of the above? The Protestants would say that Scripture lays it all out quite nicely. But their appeal to Scripture, we are told, is question-begging because it assumes their paradigm and not yours. Jeff has said “fair enough” and has tried in good faith, as far as I can tell, to argue from within the Catholic paradigm. So he simply moves to the final sentence of the MOC, which, I think spells out the Catholic IP–that is, one needs an authority outside of personal opinion to adjudicate on these matters.

    So Catholics in their IP go one step further:

    “His work, therefore, must be Divine. The Church which He founded must also be Divine and the repository and guardian of His teaching.”

    I think all that Jeff is trying to do in laying out his 5 points, from what I understand, is try to affirm the Catholic IP laid out in this final sentence. In laying out and accepting this IP all he is saying that from INSIDE the IP (not as an outside critique) the logic is circular. How so? Because everything which precedes this final sentence of the section on MOC is predicated on “The Church which He founded must also be Divine and the repository and guardian of His teaching.” In other words, everything which preceded this sentence is a teaching from the Church. An outside critique (and thus question-begging) would stop before this final sentence, but Jeff names it the linchpin of everything which precedes it; I believe the Church sees this as the linchpin as well. Jeff then tries to demonstrate the way in which this reasoning is circular even from inside the IP. If, like you say, logic is logic and this is MOC and not an article of faith, then this too should be within the boundaries of logic.

    Your position may be this: to fully accept the possibility of the truth of the Catholic IP one must fully treat as a possibility that “The Church which He founded must also be Divine and the repository and guardian of His teaching.” Treating this as a possibility, from what I can tell from your previous writing, protects one from acting fideistically and keeps all inquiry rational. Is there any way to question the above possibility from *within* the Catholic IP? Is there any room for skepticism while one treats an IP internally as a possibility?

    Like

  137. Erik,

    It’s where you get the notion of; “I believe what the church believes”. Which was one of many points of tension that Luther pushed back against. It’s also part of the ‘aura’ of the priest who is the closest extension to the parishioner of the infallible magisterium and just to prove it, he can turn wine and bread into the body and blood of Christ. That’s why and to different degrees you get the polemical charge of ‘magic’ against the priesthood as well. This “aura” and standing also undergirds the clergy laity stratification that is prominent, used to be much moreso under Vat I, in Rome.

    Like

  138. Jeff,

    When the Catholic Encyclopedia article speaks of the motives of credibility as “evidence that the things asserted are revealed truths,” it is speaking of evidence of the divine authority of the speaker, not direct evidence for the truths of faith spoken by the authorized speaker. The motives of credibility do not directly show or establish the truths divinely revealed, but only the divine authority of the speaker, in this case, the Church. This is in part why the assent of faith is not possible by reason alone. The five claims you make above are not motives of credibility, because they can be known only by faith, not by human reason alone. The person following the motives of credibility does not need to affirm those five claims, in order to locate the Church, and determine that she has been divinely authorized. As only by the Father’s gift of faith was Peter able to know and assent to Christ’s identity as the Son of God, so only by the gift of faith are we able to know and assent to Peter’s identity as the Rock on which Christ built His Church. Of course, as I explained above, reason, apart from the assent of faith, can consider the articles of Catholic faith, and examine and evaluate various theological paradigms in relation to their respective coherence and explanatory power in view of all the available data, but doing this does not require presupposing the authority of the Catholic Church, and is therefore not circular.

    If you insist that those five claims are among the Catholic category of “motives of credibility,” then we are at an impasse, because I’m saying that you are criticizing a straw man of the Catholic position, and you are responding by pounding the table and saying that you’re not. But that impasse can be resolved by a general principle in ecumenical dialogue, one that I’ve referred to here before and elsewhere. And that principle is that out of respect and charity, each person gets to define, articulate and specify what is his own position, such that no one ought knowingly to attribute to or impose upon another, a position the other person denies is his own.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

    Like

  139. Bryan,

    I’m still attempting to wrap my mind around what the motives of credibility are. Every time I think I have an idea I’m disappointed to find out that I’m not being precise. So let me attempt to draw distinctions here.

    You are saying that the *doctrine* that the Petrine office is one that Christ instituted that the successor of Peter be infallible is not a motive of credibility. A *motive of credibility* would be appealing to an historical source, like Ignatius, to substantiate such a claim. Would this be accurate?

    So the distinction you claim Jeff is missing is that Rome does not entail that you accept the *doctrine* before looking at the *motives of credibility.* The *motives of credibility* are strictly speaking the historical evidence that substantiates the claims of Rome. The *motives of credibility* are not limited to historical question but also stretch to philosophy, theology, and even miracles.

    These *motives of credibility* are not the doctrines themselves but the reasons given for accepting the doctrine. An additional important note is that as you’ve mentioned elsewhere, the *motives of credibility* are never sufficient to enact the assent of faith because faith is a supernatural virtue.

    I’m curious in this conversation with Jeff though, why you do not believe that he is addressed motives of credibility. I’ve seen him make an attempt to charitably read the evidence given for each doctrine. Some of them are plausible and others are not. But it seems that Jeff is arguing (and correct me if I’m wrong, Jeff) that because the Catholic system must be accepted in totality Jeff has provided sufficiently explained why the churches credibility is suspect.

    Of course, you do not agree, and the discussion here has not focused as much on the specific historical information as much as the methodology governing the pursuit of Catholic claims. You may find Jeff’s arguments unconvincing, but I’m trying to find where Jeff has misrepresented the Catholic position on motives of credibility. Jeff may be wrong, but I’m confused how at your charge of a straw-man.

    Is my explanation of the distinction between *motives of credibility* correct or am I missing something?

    Thanks, Bryan.

    Like

  140. Bryan,

    BC: When the Catholic Encyclopedia article speaks of the motives of credibility as “evidence that the things asserted are revealed truths,” it is speaking of evidence of the divine authority of the speaker

    Indeed. That is precisely the content of the five points under discussion. Those five points are a summary of the claims of the church about itself to have divine authority. The warrants are then the motives of credibility that establish, or make plausible, those claims.

    The five claims you make above are not motives of credibility

    I have not said that they were, and I explained twice (once in the argument, and once in response above) that they are not.

    The five claims above are the church’s claims to be divinely authorized. The motives of credibility are the warrants for those claims.

    If you insist that those five claims are among the Catholic category of “motives of credibility,” then we are at an impasse …

    I hope the impasse is now resolved.

    BC: …out of respect and charity, each person gets to define, articulate and specify what is his own position, such that no one ought knowingly to attribute to or impose upon another, a position the other person denies is his own.

    Certainly. Still and all, it is not possible for us to anticipate one another’s thoughts. So for example, if I have misread the Catholic position, it would be helpful for you to provide that position by way of contrast.

    Likewise here, you seem to have misread my argument from the beginning, which has led you to interpret it in such a way that it is a straw-man. Perhaps my writing was unclear at first.

    But now that I’ve made my position as clear as possible, what is your response to the argument as stated?

    Like

  141. What am I missing about that Catholic Encyclopedia article on the motives of credibility? The whole piece contains one question begging statement after another. It reminds of the 1960’s back and forth between Goldwater supporters & opponents:

    Goldwater supporter: “In your heart you know he’s right!”

    Goldwater opponent: “In your guts you know he’s nuts!”

    I would love for us to break that article down piece by piece and determine which of its propsitions require nothing more than reason to accept rather than faith. I want to run it by my atheist friend to see how much of it he accepts merely based on reason.

    Like

  142. I want to nominate Jeff Cagle to receive the Old LIfe Theological Society Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry and perseverance in the face of the CtC well-entrenched positions, engaging every circular argument and assault on normal discourse with courtesy, studied logic, and reasoned debate. In the face of fatigue he has continued to press the case forward with aplomb, exposing the inherent weaknesses of the CtC tautological refuge. Huzzah!

    Like

  143. Justin,

    So he simply moves to the final sentence of the MOC, which, I think spells out the Catholic IP–that is, one needs an authority outside of personal opinion to adjudicate on these matters.

    One does not need an external authority in order to follow the motives of credibility or discover that to which they point. That would entail either fideism or an infinite regress: i.e. why should I believe *that* external authority? Either you just leap (i.e. fideism) or there are motives of credibility for that external authority, which motives of credibility then need *another* external authority, which is either believed fideistically, or there are still more motives of credibility for *its* authority, etc., etc. So it is not true that from a Catholic point of view one needs an authority outside of personal opinion to adjudicate regarding the motives of credibility.

    Because everything which precedes this final sentence of the section on MOC is predicated on “The Church which He founded must also be Divine and the repository and guardian of His teaching.” In other words, everything which preceded this sentence is a teaching from the Church.

    Just because something is a teaching of the Church does not entail that it must be known on the basis of the Church’s authority. For example, the Church teaches that God exists. But God’s existence can be known by reason alone. Likewise, yes, the Church affirms the motives of credibility, but that does not entail that the motives of credibility must be known on the basis of the Church’s authority.

    If, like you say, logic is logic and this is MOC and not an article of faith, then this too should be within the boundaries of logic.

    If you are referring to the claim “The Church which He founded must also be Divine …” then yes, but the meaning of the statement is that the Church is divinely authorized. That’s what the motives of credibility do with respect to the Church; they show that the Church is divinely authorized, because it was founded by Jesus Christ.

    Your position may be this: to fully accept the possibility of the truth of the Catholic IP one must fully treat as a possibility that “The Church which He founded must also be Divine and the repository and guardian of His teaching.” Treating this as a possibility, from what I can tell from your previous writing, protects one from acting fideistically and keeps all inquiry rational. Is there any way to question the above possibility from *within* the Catholic IP? Is there any room for skepticism while one treats an IP internally as a possibility?

    Let’s distinguish between two senses of being ‘internal’ to the Catholic paradigm. The Catholic paradigm as viewed from the point of view of reason alone, is not the same as the Catholic paradigm as viewed from the point of view of Catholic faith. Through reason one can be ‘internal’ to the Catholic paradigm through an empathetic intellectual effort, in which one attempts to understand the Catholic paradigm virtually, as a whole, on its own terms, even while not assenting to its doctrines and submitting to its authorities. This is the stance of the inquirer who is trying to investigate the Catholic question openly and sincerely. Can one raise objections and criticisms to the Catholic paradigm while ‘internal’ to the Catholic paradigm in this sense? Of course. That would obviously be an important part of evaluating the paradigm.

    The person who assents to the Catholic faith, and submits to the Catholic Church, is internal to the Catholic paradigm in a deeper way than is the sincere inquirer described just above. This person can also raise objections and criticisms to the Catholic paradigm, but now he does so through an empathetic or abstract intellectual effort, because what is more certain cannot be overturned by what is less certain, and the certainty of faith far exceeds the certainty provided by the motives of credibility. Nevertheless this empathetic or abstract intellectual consideration of objections and criticisms is not rightly thought to be insincere or disingenuous, for the same reason that the inquirer’s abstract consideration of the Catholic paradigm is not rightly thought to be insincere or disingenuous.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

    Like

  144. Brandon,

    You are saying that the *doctrine* that the Petrine office is one that Christ instituted that the successor of Peter be infallible is not a motive of credibility. A *motive of credibility* would be appealing to an historical source, like Ignatius, to substantiate such a claim. Would this be accurate?

    Yes. I’m not saying that the inquirer must be ignorant of Mt. 16 or of Catholic doctrine concerning the Petrine office (e.g. Vatican I, etc.). I *am* saying that any motive of credibility, by the very definition of ‘motive of credibility,’ must be knowable by reason apart from Catholic faith. So, yes, historical sources such as the letters of St. Ignatius, and Scripture (approached from the point of view of historical inquiry, prior to and apart from faith) provide motives of credibility for locating the Church Christ founded, and recognizing its divine authority.

    So the distinction you claim Jeff is missing is that Rome does not entail that you accept the *doctrine* before looking at the *motives of credibility.*

    Jeff is claiming that certain Catholic doctrines are essential motives of credibility, and that therefore the Catholic position is circular, because these Catholic doctrines depend on Catholic Magisterial authority, the authority of which is precisely what the motives of credibility are supposed to establish.

    The *motives of credibility* are strictly speaking the historical evidence that substantiates the claims of Rome.

    If by “substantiates the claims of Rome” you mean identifies the Church Christ founded as the Catholic Church, consisting of all the particular Churches in communion with the bishop of Rome, then yes. But if by “substantiates the claims of Rome” you mean substantiates any particular *doctrine* of the Catholic Church (e.g. Trinity, Christology, sacramentology) then no. We know the articles of faith *through* the Church, on the authority of the Church, not by inference from the motives of credibility. Again, of course, the doctrines of the Catholic Church, in that particular stage of their development and articulation, can be located in the Church Fathers, and the patristic testimony in that way serves as a motive of credibility for identifying the Church subsequently. So for example, if all the Church Fathers affirm baptismal regeneration, and we are considering two second millennium ecclesial candidates for being the Church Christ founded, and one of them affirms baptismal regeneration and the other does not, then all other things being equal, the teaching of the Church Fathers on this subject provides a motive of credibility to believe that the candidate affirming baptismal regeneration is the Church Christ founded.

    The *motives of credibility* are not limited to historical question but also stretch to philosophy, theology, and even miracles.

    Yes, so as long as it accessible to reason, apart from faith. A divine messenger must provide some motive of credibility by which we may know that he is truly authorized by God. This is true also of Christ, and of the Church. This is the purpose of the motives of credibility, to identify and establish the divine authority of a divine messenger, not to [directly] prove or demonstrate the truth of any doctrine coming from that speaker’s mouth.

    These *motives of credibility* are not the doctrines themselves but the reasons given for accepting the doctrine.

    Yes, if by “reasons given for accepting the doctrine” you mean the reasons given for believing that the one teaching this doctrine has divine authority to do so.

    An additional important note is that as you’ve mentioned elsewhere, the *motives of credibility* are never sufficient to enact the assent of faith because faith is a supernatural virtue.

    Right.

    I’m curious in this conversation with Jeff though, why you do not believe that he is addressed motives of credibility. I’ve seen him make an attempt to charitably read the evidence given for each doctrine. Some of them are plausible and others are not. But it seems that Jeff is arguing (and correct me if I’m wrong, Jeff) that because the Catholic system must be accepted in totality Jeff has provided sufficiently explained why the churches credibility is suspect.

    I don’t know if you’ve followed this whole thread (it is rather long at this point), but Jeff is trying to show that the Catholic position is circular, meaning, involves circular reasoning. The common caricature is that the Catholic knows that the pope has authority, on the basis of the pope’s authority. That is, the Catholic depends on Catholic Magisterial authority in order to argue for Catholic Magisterial authority. That is clearly circular reasoning. And if we did that, we’d be fideists, because our initial embrace of Catholic authority would be arbitrary and irrational. So I’m pointing out that this circularity that Jeff attributes to the Catholic position is contrary to the Catholic understanding of the relation of reason to faith, because of the role of the motives of credibility in coming to faith, and the Church’s condemnation of fideism. At this point in the conversation, the particular point of dispute between Jeff and myself is whether five particular Catholic doctrines are motives of credibility. Jeff seems to be claiming that these five are essential to the motives of credibility, and can be known only through the authority of the Catholic Church, hence the circularity of the Catholic position.

    I’m pointing out that the five doctrines are not motives of credibility, because the motives of credibility are (simply by definition) what can be known by reason alone, and these five doctrines are known only by faith. Of course an inquirer who is considering the Catholic paradigm as a whole will consider how the Catholic paradigm (which includes these five doctrines) makes sense of all the available historical, biblical, patristic, and philosophical data, in relation to the other available paradigms. So in that way these five doctrines can certainly play a role in coming to Catholic faith. But even here it is not the doctrines that are the motives of credibility but the fit between the those doctrines and the evidence from history, philosophy, patristics, Scripture, etc., in comparison to that provided by the other available paradigms. And comparing the paradigms according to relative fit and explanatory power does not require presupposing the authority of the Catholic Magisterium, and is therefore not indicative of circularity in the motives of credibility for the Catholic Church.

    The motives of credibility do not merely identify the Church Christ founded as it existed in the first century, but allow us to trace it forward from the first century to the present day.

    And the testimony of the Church Fathers and councils teach us how to identify the Church, according to her four marks: one, holy, catholic and apostolic. So to be the Church Christ founded, it must have all four marks. It has to have been in existence already at the time of the Apostles, and have them as its pillars on which it is built. It has to be one, and holy. And it has to be catholic as St. Cyril of Jerusalem said in the fourth century:

    And if ever you are sojourning in cities, inquire not simply where the Lord’s House is (for the other sects of the profane also attempt to call their own dens houses of the lord), nor merely where the Church is, but where is the Catholic Church. For this is the peculiar name of this Holy Church, the mother of us all. (Lect. 18.26)

    Even the pagans of the time knew where the Catholic Church was, presumably without even knowing the unique role given to St. Peter, and the other four doctrines Jeff specifies.

    Of course, you do not agree, and the discussion here has not focused as much on the specific historical information as much as the methodology governing the pursuit of Catholic claims. You may find Jeff’s arguments unconvincing, but I’m trying to find where Jeff has misrepresented the Catholic position on motives of credibility. Jeff may be wrong, but I’m confused how at your charge of a straw-man. Is my explanation of the distinction between *motives of credibility* correct or am I missing something?

    The reason I’m claiming that Jeff is erecting a straw man is because he is treating articles of faith as motives of credibility, and then saying that knowing these articles of faith depends on the Catholic Magisterium, and that the Catholic position is therefore circular, because the motives of credibility rely on the authority of the Magisterium. That’s a straw man because his first move mistakenly treats articles of faith as motives of credibility.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

    Like

  145. Bryan – So, yes, historical sources such as the letters of St. Ignatius, and Scripture (approached from the point of view of historical inquiry, prior to and apart from faith) provide motives of credibility for locating the Church Christ founded, and recognizing its divine authority.

    Erik – What if someone looks at Scripture (approached from the point of view of historical inquiry, prior to and apart from faith) and sees that the Roman Catholic Church is NOT the Church Christ founded, because it teaches things that depart from Scripture?

    Like

  146. How is this motive of credibility known purely by reason?

    “And as the centuries pass we find this Church battling against heresies schisms, and the sins of her own people—nay, of her own rulers—and yet continuing ever the same, promulgating ever the same doctrine, and putting before men the same mysteries of the life, death and resurrection of the world’s Saviour, Who had, so she taught, gone before to prepare a home for those who while on earth should have believed in Him and fought the good fight.”

    How can “the church” battle it’s own rulers (as if its own rulers were something separate from the church in Catholicism). Do these rulers have apostolic authority or not? How do we know if the right rulers won the battle?

    The reason the game is rigged is a Catholic will only agree that you have been “reasonable” if you end up with the same conclusion that they have at the end of examining the motives of credibility. If you don’t, they’ll conclude that you have been “unreasonable”.

    Like

  147. Jeff,

    The warrants are then the motives of credibility that establish, or make plausible, those claims.

    The motives of credibility do not “establish or make plausible” those five claims. The motives of credibility show us by reason the divine authority of the Church, and from the Church we know by faith those five doctrines.

    The five claims above are the church’s claims to be divinely authorized. The motives of credibility are the warrants for those claims.

    Again, that conflates faith and reason. The motives of credibility only show the identity of the Church as the Church Christ founded, and her divine authority. They are accessible to reason, and do not “warrant” any doctrines. We assent to Catholic doctrines by faith through the divine authority of the Church.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

    Like

  148. Hey Bryan,

    Thanks for your thorough response. That clears it up a bit for me.

    Jeff,

    I’m selfishly jumping in here so that I can attempt to grasp the conversation that you are entering with Bryan. I’m sure you’re busy and trying to engage Bryan so don’t worry if you don’t have the time to respond. I’m curious what you think of Bryan’s response though.

    You may be correct in your criticism of the historical evidence, but the Catholic claim is not a vicious circle. As Bryan notes, the motives of credibility function differently for the Catholic than they do for the Protestant. For individuals like you and me, we bring our questions and concerns to the claims of Rome. You and I both find their claims unpersuasive. It still remains however, that the Catholic apologetic is not (or I should say, does not *necessarily*) a straight-forward “take my word for it” kind of approach.

    Bryan is telling us, “Look at the evidence (a form of inductive, not deductive reasoning) to form your conclusions.”

    Do you think then that we should shift gears from criticizing the circularity of Rome’s argument to actually addressing the motives of credibility themselves? This would probably be another discussion for another time, but it seems that this would get at the heart of the issues. What are your thoughts, Jeff?

    Like

  149. Brandon, but we have been challenging the evidence for a long time here. Matt. 16 is no slam dunk for Rome, the uberdiocese of the universe. Peter is hardly the major figure of the New Testament. Mary is a no show after the gospels. We’re looking at the evidence and the claims seem to rest on a leap of faith.

    Like

  150. Bryan, change that last line “We assent to Catholic doctrines by faith through the divine authority of the Church the work of the Holy Spirit” and you have the Protestant position. You substitute the church for God. And I thought the ordo salutis was complicated. No straw man, just a reaction.

    Since you have a background among the Pentecostals, I wonder if you ever get nostalgic about the Holy Ghost.

    Like

  151. Brandon – “the motives of credibility function differently for the Catholic than they do for the Protestant”

    Erik – Are not Catholics & Protestants both humans? Catholics claim the motives of credibility can be grasped by reason (not faith). Look at Bryan’s statement right above yours. Do Catholic & Protestant (and atheist) brains work differently?

    Like

  152. Bryan: At this point in the conversation, the particular point of dispute between Jeff and myself is whether five particular Catholic doctrines are motives of credibility.

    For the third time, this is not the particular point of dispute between us.

    I have not asserted that the five Catholic claims are motives of credibility, but that the motives of credibility warrant those claims.

    If you cannot acknowledge this point, I will have to assume that you are willfully misreading the argument for your own rhetorical purposes.

    Like

  153. Erik Charter — regarding Carroll’s Founding of Christendom, Carroll works with dates provided by the now-discredited Liberian Catalogue / Liber Pontificalis (and Eusebius). These are completely discredited, and yet those are the dates he goes with in his discussion of the early papacy.

    Like

  154. Regarding “Petra/Petros” in the Greek somehow having said “kepha/kepha” in the Aramaic is mere “ecclesiastical vaporware”. Sure, that is one possibility. But when the Gospels were translated into Syriac, a language very similar to Aramaic (and likely in the 2nd century — see the Diatessaron — it wasn’t translated “kepha/kepha”, but “kepha/tnra”. An actual translation ought to carry more weight than an imaginary one.

    Like

  155. Bryan – “The motives of credibility show us by reason the divine authority of the Church”

    Erik – What are these propositions that the RCC contends we should be able to accept by reason? (not conflated with faith per Bryan)

    (1) The Old Testament details the marvelous dealings of God with a particular nation

    (2) The Old Testament tells us that God repeatedly reveals Himself to that nation

    (3) The Old Testament tells of miracles wrought in favor of that nation

    (4) These miracles are proofs of the truth of the revelation God makes

    (5) The Old Testament contains sublime teaching

    (6) The Old Testament repeatedly announces God’s desire to save the world from sin and its
    consequences

    (7) The Old Testament contains a series of hints of some wondrous person who is to come as the world’s savior

    (8) The Old Testament asserts both that this wondrous person is a man and God himself

    (9) The New Testament records the birth, life, and death of one who, while clearly man, also claimed to be God

    (10) This man who also claimed to be God proved the truth of his claim by His whole life, miracles, teachings, death, and triumphant resurrection.

    (11) Jesus founded a Church

    (12) This Church should continue to the end of time according to Jesus

    (13) This Church should serve as a repository of His teaching

    (14) This Church should be the means of applying to all men the fruits of the redemption He had wrought

    [Where is anything about redemption established prior to (14)?]

    (15) The subsequent History of this Church finds it speedily spreading everywhere in spite of its humble origin, unworldly teaching, and cruel persecution it meets

    (16) As centuries pass we find this church battling against heresies, schisms, the sins of her own people, the sins of her own rulers

    (17) In spite of these things this Church continues ever the same

    (18) This church promulgates ever the same doctrine

    (19) This church puts before men the same mysteries of the life, death and resurrection of the world’s savior

    (20) This savior had gone before to prepare a home for those who while on earth should have believed in Him and fought the good fight

    (21) The history of the Church since New Testament times wonderfully confirms the New Testament itself

    (22) The New Testament marvelously completes the Old Testament

    (23) If (21) and (22) are true then these books must contain what they claim to contain, divine revelation

    (24) Jesus must be the Son of God because His story in the New Testament so perfectly corresponds with its prophetic delineation in the Old Testament

    (25) Jesus’ work must therefore be divine

    (26) The Church he founded must therefore be divine

    (27) The Church he founded must also be divine and the repository and guardian of His teaching

    (28) Christ himself is our testimony for every truth of Christianity which we believe

    (29) We believe in Christ because the divinity he claimed rests upon the current testimony of His miracles, His prophecies, His personal character, the nature of his doctrine

    (30) We believe in Christ’s divinity because of the marvelous propagation of His teaching in spite of its running counter to flesh and blood

    (31) We believe in Christ’s divinity because of the united testimony of thousands of martyrs

    (32) We believe in Christ’s divinity because of the stories of countless saints who for his sake have led heroic lives

    (33) We believe in Christ’s divinity because of the history of the Church herself since the Crucifixion

    (34) We believe in Christ’s divinity because of the history of the papacy from St. Peter to Pius X (1835-1914)

    “These testimonies are unanimous; they all point in one direction, they are of every age, they are clear and simple, and are within the grasp of the humblest intelligence”

    Like

  156. Now let’s go back to Jeff’s original challenge to Bryan:

    It’s not hard to establish the circularity of your position.

    (1) The RCC is the Church that Christ founded.

    (2) We know this by trusting in the Motives of Credibility,

    (3) Which includes Jesus’ promise to Peter that the Church was founded upon him and the gates of Hell would not prevail against it,

    (4) And we know that Jesus did in fact promise this because it is recorded in the Scripture

    (4a) And we know that Jesus meant (1) by (3) because the Church has so interpreted it,

    (5) And we know which works are Scriptural because the Church tells us the canon,

    (6) And we know that the Church has the authority to determine the canon because it is the Church that Christ founded.

    Like

  157. I am sympathetic to Jeff’s argument because, while Catholics do not really “trust in the motives of credibility” (as Bryan points out), I don’t think one can accept #’s 13, 14, 17, 18, 19, 26, 27, 30, 31, 32, 33, & 34 (at least) merely on the basis of reason. History is just not as “neat” as the Roman Catholic Church seems to suppose. You really do have to possess faith in the Church itself (which is what the last part of the motives of credibility are getting at in the discussion of “Divine Faith”) before you accept these items. That’s where the circularity that Jeff is seeking to establish comes in.

    I’m a reasonable person. I look at the evidence and see Protestant (Reformed) churches as a reasonable conclusion. My atheist friend (who is a professor of religious studies) looks at the evidence and would not conclude that any church is reasonable. The motives of credibility assume way too much about what can be discerned merely by reason.

    Like

  158. I’m glad Jeff is going through this arduous process and stilted way of having a discussion, sort of. But to me the most revealing aspect of this whole discussion is how very protestant, Bryan Cross’ RC remains. Bryan isn’t much of an insider of his own faith, and even Ratzinger is more forthcoming about interpretation, application, misapplication and diversity of Rome’s faith. Bryan’s apologetic consistently looks more like Bryan than anything else.

    Like

  159. Darryl,

    “We assent to Catholic doctrines by faith through the divine authority of the Church the work of the Holy Spirit” and you have the Protestant position. You substitute the church for God.

    Catholics are not Montanists or Enthusiasts. We believe that the Holy Spirit works *through* the Church. So there is no substituting of the Church for God.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

    Like

  160. Daryl,

    You said,

    “Brandon, but we have been challenging the evidence for a long time here. Matt. 16 is no slam dunk for Rome, the uberdiocese of the universe. Peter is hardly the major figure of the New Testament. Mary is a no show after the gospels. We’re looking at the evidence and the claims seem to rest on a leap of faith.”

    I agree with you. I don’t find Rome’s credibility credible. Yet the particular question that Jeff is raising is the circularity of the Catholic position. I’m still not persuaded that it is inherently circular.

    I’ll note (so you know I’m on your team) that all of the talk of motives of credibility seems disingenuous with the way that Catholics talk about being unable to interpret Scripture without an infallible interpreter. This sort of philosophical skepticism is not evenly applied. If I don’t need the Magisterium to judge her claims about herself that why do I need her when I go to interpret Scripture?

    But that is another discussion for another time. I don’t want to high-jack Jeff’s argument.

    Like

  161. Erick,

    When I said that the motives of credibility function differently for the Protestant and the Catholic I only meant that they reach different conclusions. The Protestant may not found the motives of credibility persuasive while the Catholic may not. The Catholic and the Protestant both appeal to the motives of credibility for their belief or unbelief for the claim that Rome is the Church that Christ founded.

    Probably could have articulated that more clearly. Thanks for pointing that out, Erick. Hope that clears it up.

    Like

  162. Bryan, neither are Reformed Montanists or Enthusiasts, and we also believe that the Holy Spirit works through the church. In fact, against the Enthusiasts (and V2), we confess that there is no ordinary possibility of salvation outside of her. But against the sacerdotalists we also confess that the Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God and thereby assures us of eternal life. The way you tell it, it would seem the Spirit’s role is to point the believer to the church, whereas the Reformed say his role is to point us to Christ.

    Like

  163. Brandon,

    I believe that any appeal to ultimate authority is circular. Otherwise the thing that we point to to establish ultimate authority would be the ultimate authority. This is logical when you think about it. If history is what ultimately establishes Rome’s claims then history is the ultimate authority, not Rome. As Protestants we admit that Sola Scriptura requires circular reasoning. Rome doesn’t admit that their claims about themselves are circular. Rome needs to grow up.

    Like

  164. And if history is the ultimate authority as to who Rome is, history has given us mixed messages (see the abuses that led to the Reformation). Rome shouldn’t be able to cherry pick history, should they?

    Like

  165. Read Bryan’s response to Horton on Sola Scriptura (you can google it or it is linked a few pages back here). Bryan thinks that history is clear cut and he has it nailed down. But does he? That is the key question.

    Like

  166. Erick,

    The particular focus that Jeff has raised is whether or not Rome’s claim is viciously circular (i.e. the premises are acceptable only when the conclusion is assumed). Jeff has argued that Rome’s motives of credibility are themselves only credible if you accept Rome’s claims about herself. Bryan has responded by saying that the evidence itself is not circular, even if it is wrong.

    If you are saying that Roman claims are circular in the same way that Protestant claims are then you are conceding one of two things. Either the Catholic position is not circular because your position is not circular OR theology (and really any academic field ) is inherently circular and evidence can play no role in authenticating ones paradigm.

    I’m fairly confident you won’t take option 2. Do you see a potential 3rd way?

    Like

  167. Brandon,

    all of the talk of motives of credibility seems disingenuous with the way that Catholics talk about being unable to interpret Scripture without an infallible interpreter. This sort of philosophical skepticism is not evenly applied. If I don’t need the Magisterium to judge her claims about herself that why do I need her when I go to interpret Scripture?

    That’s an understandable objection, but it is based not on what the Church teaches, but on a common misconstrual of the Catholic position. The caricature is that according to the Catholic Church, apart from the Magisterium, Scripture is an inscrutable black box. As you can imagine, I’ve seen that caricature many times. But in actuality the Catholic conception of perspicuity is far more qualified. The idea is rather that by Scripture alone, without a magisterium, there can be no dogma as such. For this reason Scripture, apart from a magisterium, does not establish and preserve the Church in “one faith,” but allows a proliferation of contrary interpretations without any authorized body to adjudicate between them, or determine authoritatively and definitively which questions are essential, and which are adiaphora. Each man does what is right in his own eyes, according to his own interpretation, but this is incapable of providing public dogma. An ecclesiology built on Scripture alone (without a magisterium) is intrinsically incapable of maintaining Church unity, and so the necessary result is the formation of many different sects each forming around interpretive agreement among persons holding that same general interpretation, and each setting up their own ecclesial ‘authority’ to preserve adherence to that interpretation among their members. So it is not as though the Catholic holds an ad hoc skepticism, believing that in every other area of life human reason works fairly reliably, but then suddenly, as soon as we crack open a Bible we suffer, as it were, cerebral apoplexy. Not at all. The very same reason why we (as a nation) have and need a government and a judicial branch, rather than merely the constitution to resolve legal questions and disputes, is the same reason why the universal Church needs an authorized magisterium to determine authoritatively questions of orthodoxy and heterodoxy, and thus preserve unity of faith, unity of the Church, and to carry out discipline, such that a disciplined person cannot simply go down the street and start his own ‘church’ which ipso facto becomes another ‘branch’ of the universal Church.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

    Like

  168. Erik,

    I believe that any appeal to ultimate authority is circular. Otherwise the thing that we point to to establish ultimate authority would be the ultimate authority.

    This claim presupposes falsely the conflation of the order of being and the order of knowing. That’s a philosophical error. It would entail that your eyes and your ears and your other physical senses are ‘higher’ in authority than God Himself, since everything you know about God you learn through your senses. It would make the Apostles greater in authority than Jesus, since Jesus didn’t write anything down, and so we must appeal to the Apostles in order to know anything about Jesus. I addressed this error in January of 2008, in a post titled “Presuppositionalism: Fideism built on Skepticism.”

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

    Like

  169. Bryan,

    You’d have to demonstrate the necessity of an excluded middle between a magisterium (i.e., the Roman Catholic ecclesiology, as you understand it) and every man doing what is right in their own eyes. Incidentally, how is the Galatian congregation supposed to abide by v. 1:8 if they need to be always in unity with the ‘magisterium’ that Paul is presumably referring to with his ‘we’? Are they expected to stay in the pews until the ‘we’ in question get around to excommunicating themselves?

    Like

  170. Brandon & Bryan,

    You are both constructing straw men. Rome is circular because its claims about itself can not be “proven” apart from believing its claims about itself — even its assertions in the motives of credibility. Just looking at history is not enough.

    Bryan trusts his senses — his private judgment — in choosing to be a Catholic just like he did when he chose to be a Protestant. He thinks he has found a way to eliminate his doubts, but I don’t believe he really has. I think he will realize this eventually.

    There is an element in the thinking of CTC converts that we “have to have this” or we “have to have that”. therefore Rome is the answer. Where have they proven that they have to have this or that?

    Like

  171. Bryan – The idea is rather that by Scripture alone, without a magisterium, there can be no dogma as such. For this reason Scripture, apart from a magisterium, does not establish and preserve the Church in “one faith,” but allows a proliferation of contrary interpretations without any authorized body to adjudicate between them, or determine authoritatively and definitively which questions are essential, and which are adiaphora. Each man does what is right in his own eyes, according to his own interpretation, but this is incapable of providing public dogma

    Erik – Prove to me that (1) we must have “dogma” as Rome defines it, (2) we must have “one faith” as Rome defines it, (3) We must have an authorized body to adjudicate between contrary interpretations.

    What are the presuppositions that lead to the conclusion that we “must” have these things?

    Like

  172. Brandon – Either the Catholic position is not circular because your position is not circular OR theology (and really any academic field ) is inherently circular and evidence can play no role in authenticating ones paradigm.

    I’m fairly confident you won’t take option 2. Do you see a potential 3rd way?

    Erik – My position (sola scriptura) is circular but is based on reasonable evidence (to me anyway). The Catholic position (scripture, tradition, magisterium) is circular but is based on reasonable evidence (to them anyway). My point is that Catholics are not in a superior position to Protestants just because “Catholics have located the Church that Christ founded” as Bryan seems to want to claim in a question-begging manner. We are arguing about the validity of evidence and ultimately taking certain things on faith. That’s why we constantly say that Bryan needs to lose the superiority complex and just have a discussion.

    Like

  173. Bryan,

    Thanks for your response. I’ve been reading CtC and other RC writers for a while now and find your answer more subdued than I believe that I’ve seen it elsewhere. The way that *some* Catholic apologists caricature Protestantism it is as if there can be no understanding of Scripture apart from an infallible church. This may not be the Catholic position, but it is certainly an apologetic tact that exists–particularly with ex-Protestant converts. Perhaps you can forgive this “caricature” of the Catholic position in light of this.

    I think that Protestants–and particularly cranky confessionalists like Dr. Hart–can affirm the importance and necessity of the church. We acknowledge that church government was something instituted by Christ, we just don’t happen to think that infallibility is something that Christ gave to officers of the church, particularly to the Petrine office.

    When you say,

    “An ecclesiology built on Scripture alone (without a magisterium) is intrinsically incapable of maintaining Church unity, and so the necessary result is the formation of many different sects each forming around interpretive agreement among persons holding that same general interpretation, and each setting up their own ecclesial ‘authority’ to preserve adherence to that interpretation among their members.”

    Should we read that as “An Ecclesiology without an infallible magisterium is intrinsically incapable of maintaining Church unity?” I don’t want to rehash everything you’ve written elsewhere, but I’m not sure that this is immediately clear to me or others (N.B: Or for that matter other religious groups. Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc., do not have an infallible interpreter. Of particular interest are Islam and Judaism who are constituted around a book and not “a speaking Magisterium”).

    In addition, I find it intriguing that you find that without the Magisterium there can be “no dogma.” You go on to discuss that there is no way to decide between interpretations so perhaps by this statement you mean that there is no principled way to distinguish between interpretations, thus the necessity of the RCC. Would this be accurate?

    If we can understand the Scripture and they provide “motives of credibility” for Rome, then how can there be no dogma without her? I think you’d be willing to grant that our theology ought to be biblical, but are you suggesting that without an interpreter we cannot reach theological conclusions? If this is the case then how can the inquirer actually proceed in their inquiry?

    Thanks, Bryan.

    Like

  174. Bryan:

    The motives of credibility show us by reason the divine authority of the Church.

    Thank you. So we are in agreement now that the Catholic position is that the motives of credibility are intended to show the divine authority of the Church.

    And we are also in agreement that my argument is that the motives of credibility warrant the five claims?

    Now the obvious question is, why do I say that?

    Because the five claims *are* (a subset of) the Church’s claims to divine authority.

    It is important for you to understand concerning my argument that I am not considering the five claims as Church doctrine (which would require, as you point out, faith). I am merely considering them as the content of the Church’s claims to divine authority.

    So when you say that “The motives of credibility show us by reason the divine authority of the Church”, I fully agree (that this is your position) and go one step further: to point out that the Catholic understanding of the divine authority of the church includes the five claims.

    So there is no straw-man as you allege above, that my argument accuses Catholics of relying on infallibility to establish infallibility. I understand that you do not do that.

    Rather, I am claiming that Catholics warrant the credibility of divine Church authority in part on Church teachings. I am examining how evidence is being handled and used; I am not considering the questions of either infallibility or faith.

    Does that help you understand my argument better?

    Like

  175. This has been a worthwhile thread to follow. I hope it continues. If anyone has not listened to the Bryan Cross interview of Jason Stellman you should. All you have to do is hit Bryan’s name on this site and it will lead you directly to the podcast. There is some good stuff in that interview. It clarifies a lot of the important issues that are being debated and discussed. I found it interesting who the theologians were that influenced Jason in his beliefs and perspective on sola fide. To name a few- Gordon Fea, Doug Moo, Vos, Ribberdos and Gaffin. Even though I do not agree with Jason you cannot help but have some sort of respect for him for being honest about where his theological struggles were taking him. It is a tale of two paradigms. I remain in the tale of the imputed righteousness of Christ.

    Like

  176. Bryan: “It would make the Apostles greater in authority than Jesus, since Jesus didn’t write anything down, and so we must appeal to the Apostles in order to know anything about Jesus.”

    Erik: Isn’t this precisely what Catholics do — expanding the definition of “apostles” to mean the Pope and the Magisterium?

    Like

  177. JY,

    It’s not really Moo, at very critical points. One of Jason’s linchpin exegetical turns is the supposed gentile christian in Rom 2. Moo rejects such an interpretation and rightly so. Quite frankly without that conclusion in Rom 2, Jason doesn’t have an exegetical case for what he’s doing. I think some of those who know the arguments beg off the engagement, because why help someone who’s determined to be an RC apologist, and has a prior faith claim to Rome’s magisterial interpretation, sharpen his knives in an enterprise which at any moment he can pull the rip cord of tradition, a prior antecedent faith allegiance, and land on solid ground in his paradigm.

    Like

  178. This claim presupposes falsely the conflation of the order of being and the order of knowing. That’s a philosophical error. It would entail that your eyes and your ears and your other physical senses are ‘higher’ in authority than God Himself, since everything you know about God you learn through your senses. It would make the Apostles greater in authority than Jesus, since Jesus didn’t write anything down, and so we must appeal to the Apostles in order to know anything about Jesus.

    The suppressed premise? We must appeal to Rome to know anything about the Apostles and the Apostolic Church and Succession.
    Two, the cat, before it ran away saw, tasted, heard and smelled the same bible. It did not understand it.
    The order of being for both systems is God, the order of knowledge is Scripture/the Roman Church with the faith /reception of the Roman sacraments the respective internal principal.
    As below, who puts who ahead of God and denies it in the same breath? Rome or protestantism?

    Catholics are not Montanists or Enthusiasts. We believe that the Holy Spirit works *through* the Church. So there is no substituting of the Church for God.

    Yet the apostolic heel to the assertion.

    The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.  Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?  Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? John 3:8-10

    Evidently.

    Further, when all is said and done, dollars to doughnuts any attempt to examine, criticize or scrutinize the MoC/evidence, ‘ philosophical, historical, theological or scriptural’/whatever one cares to call it for the ‘one holy catholic apostolic’ church, will performatively run into the “question/paradigm begging” objection, under the same or a different name.

    Like

  179. In that interview Stellman says that the imputation of alien righteousness is unnecessary in light of Romans 8.1-4:

    “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.[a] 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you[b] free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,[c] he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

    But don’t you have to read Romans 8 in light of everything that has proceeded it in the first 7 chapters of Romans? What does “in Christ Jesus” mean if not imputation? Does it merely mean we have been baptized into the church?

    He seems to say that “the love of God fulfills the law” and that we can fulfill the law merely by loving God and our neighbor and that the Spirit enables us to do that.

    It’s interesting to hear Stellman say that he came to Rome through thinking about these issues vs. Cross coming to Rome through doubts about Sola Scriptura (see his reply to Horton in their debate). Stellman converts via Bible study while Cross converts via historical study and presuppositions about the need for visible church unity and a definitive ruler (the pope).

    Like

  180. Is it not a bit ironic to lower the bar by saying that God does not require perfect obedience that can only be satisfied by the alien righteousness of Christ, but then to say that there is only one, true, Roman Catholic Church that all men must be joined to or risk the damnation of their souls?

    The first item makes men less dependent on Christ while the second item makes them more dependent on other men. It appears to be a naked power play.

    Like

  181. You may disagree, but he doesn’t successfully get out of Rom 2 (IMO), to get the rest of it done. see my comment above. And as regards 8:1, you can’t even get out of the verse without being in a forensic setting(i.e. condemnation). The tie back, I believe is 7:1-4, which is a familial relationship-husband & wife, within the LEGAL context of marriage. Again we’re back in the courtroom, the legal precedes the familial. This gets done much better by any number of protestant exegetes. Even just on a pactum salutis basis(covenant between the father and the son)-(Irons), you’ve got imputation covenantally considered per the God-man, 2nd adam.

    Like

  182. Sean,

    Well I am not really sure exactly what are you saying in regards to the Gentile Christian argument and Romans chapter 2. Most theologians, like N.T. Wright and others, use Romans 2 to justify their claim that Christians will have to go through some kind of final justification based on works they have performed. Stellman, in the interview, was claiming he had leanings towards rejection of sola fide while at Westminster West and working on his 50 page paper on the Holy Spirit with David Van Drunen. And in his book DUAL CITIZENS he was forthright in his reservations with Luther’s theology of the cross in favor of a more tempered version of a theology of glory and victory by the power of the Holy Spirit. Moo does have leanings in that regard, as does Ribberdos, Vos, Gaffin and Fea. And, I might add, so do the Catholics of the Bryan Cross stripe.

    I also thought it interesting that Stellman claimed he saw a sort of penance of a harsher law put on the people of Israel by God through their continued disobedience while wandering through the desert for 40 years. These penances got more severe as the disobedience became worse and worse.

    I also noticed that no one that I am familiar with on Protestant blog sites had anything to say to Jason in the more than 250 comments that followed the podcast. So, I guess the shunning and ignoring of Jason is supposed to be a sort of discipline of him to hopefully lead him to repentance. I do think he has rejected the Protestant Gospel but I am not sure he did not reject it long before he resigned his position at Exile Presbyterian. I think he made that pretty clear in the interview.

    Like

  183. Stellman says that if all Protestants do is criticize Catholicism and not make a positive case for Protestantism, all they are going to do is make him an agnostic or Eastern Orthodox. I’ve said that CTC is just a way station on the way to atheism (or agnosticism) for some of these guys. This is the first time I have heard Stellman admit the possibility himself.

    I think the issue some of these guys will run into as they age is doubt over apostolic succession beyond the original apostles. They will examine the history of the Roman Catholic Church and look critically at things they have glossed over as new converts. This will cause a crisis of faith similar to what they experienced as Protestants and atheism or agnosticism will be the result.

    The biggest virtue of Protestantism in my estimation is the line drawn at the end of the apostolic age. We base our faith on the teachings of the Old Testament, of Christ, and of the apostles and we live with the messiness and ambiguity of the next 2000 years. Catholics can’t deal with that ambiguity so they try to find solace in an infallible, visible church. Does history bear this contention out, though?

    Like

  184. Stellman – “If something’s true, there just aren’t great arguments against it.”

    Either that or you have a rigged paradigm that won’t allow any successful arguments.

    Like

  185. Stellman says that Jesus’ wouldn’t have just given us the Bible without an interpreter just as the founding fathers wouldn’t have given us a Constitution without the other branches of government to interpret it. What?! Since when do we have clear, unambiguous agreement on what the Constitution means?

    Like

  186. Stellman says that Peter was clearly the leader of the apostles. If there was a 6-6 vote Peter would clearly win out. If the vote was 9-3 and Peter was one of the three, Peter would still win out. What in the world is he talking about? Has he ever heard of Paul?

    Galatians 2.11-13:

    But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

    Like

  187. The rigor with which Stellman considered the claims of Rome appear to come nowhere close to the rigor with which he came to doubt Protestantism. He seriously needed a “time out” before he took the plunge. It’s as if I take a year to decide to leave my wife of 20 years and then decide two weeks later to marry a woman I met at the grocery store.

    Like

  188. Perhaps the most serious error these guys make is concluding that certain things “should” be present in the church (and they criticize us for private judgment). As I always remind myself, Christianity is a revealed religion and saying that anything “should” be present in it that we have not been clearly told is present in it is a dangerous error in reasoning.

    Like

  189. God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in times past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by the glorious magisterium, with the pope as its apex, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, through whom also he rules the worlds…

    Is this not what CTC is suggesting? An adulteration of scripture if there ever was one.

    Like

  190. Erik,

    Stellman says that if all Protestants do is criticize Catholicism and not make a positive case for Protestantism, all they are going to do is make him an agnostic or Eastern Orthodox. I’ve said that CTC is just a way station on the way to atheism (or agnosticism) for some of these guys. This is the first time I have heard Stellman admit the possibility himself.

    After following Stellman over at Creed Code Cult (and the prior blog) it was very interesting to me to see where he was going in his forthcoming work The Destiny of the Species. I was saddened to see his defection to Rome precisely because I think he was articulating some issues with respect to biblical doctrines of participation and spiritual ascent that have not received much attention in Protestant and Reformed circles. One could say that some of the Westminster East faction (e.g. Tipton) are attempting to do so with their emphasis on union – but in my estimation they are arguing the wrong issue in trying to pit union against the ordo – and in a way are giving ground to Roman and Eastern Orthodox models of soteriology. In a sense if he had pursued his project within confessionally Reformed lines, as opposed to getting derailed by the idiosynchratic Catholicism of CtC, he could’ve been the one making a positive statement for protestantism – not that he would be the first to do so, even recently.

    I think guys like GK Beale in his NT Biblical Theology he recently released do deal with some of the issues of final justification in such a way that does justice to the passages that allude to a final judgement of believers, and yet upholds traditional Reformed doctrines of justification. Then, on the matter of participation and ascent, I think the recent work by Julie Canlis – Calvin’s Ladder demonstrates just how robust Calvin’s spiritual theology was, and how he completely reworks older RC models of participation and ascent along Protestant lines. These and other works are something I wish he would’ve considered before jumping ship, because the cases they present seem to answer some of the issues he raises in his own comments, blog posts, and interviews.

    Like

  191. Jed,

    Good points. I hope he can swallow his pride and retrace his steps if he ever feels led to do so. We would certainly welcome him back into Reformed Churches. It’s like us & our wives. They’re always willing to take us back.

    Like

  192. Brandon,

    I think that Protestants–and particularly cranky confessionalists like Dr. Hart–can affirm the importance and necessity of the church. We acknowledge that church government was something instituted by Christ, we just don’t happen to think that infallibility is something that Christ gave to officers of the church, particularly to the Petrine office.

    The problem with the sola scriptura position, as Neal and I have argued, is that it reduces to what Mathison calls “solo scriptura.” It eliminates the “necessity of the church.” As we show there, merely accumulating around oneself teachers who teach one’s own general interpretation of Scripture (or sufficiently in conformity to one’s own interpretation of Scripture) is not Church or Church government. It is merely creating an illusion of Church and Church government.

    Should we read that as “An Ecclesiology without an infallible magisterium is intrinsically incapable of maintaining Church unity?” I don’t want to rehash everything you’ve written elsewhere, but I’m not sure that this is immediately clear to me or others (

    No, I meant magisterium. It is not merely a question of ‘infallibility,’ it is also a question of authority. The third grade of assent is to teaching that is not infallible, but is still authoritative, and requires religious submission of will and intellect. (See the Vatican link at footnote 11 in my “The Catholics are Divided Too Objection” post at CTC.) If I may reject or disregard every decision of a magisterium, on the basis that it is ‘fallible,’ such that I must conform to its judgment only in the instances when, by my judgment, it sufficiently conforms to my judgment regarding what it ought to say or decide, then the magisterium has no authority. In such a case it has at most only an advisory capacity. And when the ‘authority’ of the magisterium is reduced to an advisory capacity, hundreds if not thousands of other advisers each offering their own mere opinion will spring up. Such an ecclesial structure is not capable of preserving Church unity, for the same reason that our legal system does not consist of mere legal advisers but instead of judges with judicial authority.

    It is not as though Protestantism has a “fallible magisterium” to which all Protestants are subject, and which fallibly resolves disputes between Protestants. Protestantism has no magisterium at all. Nor is it the case that Protestants still recognize the Catholic Magisterium as having divine authority, but disagree with it only in those areas where they believe the Magisterium has erred. Protestantism simply rejected the authority of the Magisterium altogether, and each Protestant replaced it either with nothing at all (in the case of “solo scriptura” Christians), or with persons selected by their agreement with his own interpretation of Scripture, who would teach in sufficient agreement with his own interpretation of Scripture. That’s not magisterial authority; that’s just ear itching under the mere appearance of magisterial authority. In either the solo or sola case, therefore it is not just that there is no “infallible authority,” but that there is no magisterial authority.

    In addition, I find it intriguing that you find that without the Magisterium there can be “no dogma.” You go on to discuss that there is no way to decide between interpretations so perhaps by this statement you mean that there is no principled way to distinguish between interpretations, thus the necessity of the RCC. Would this be accurate?

    By ‘dogma’ here I am referring to a divinely revealed doctrine that is definitively declared to be such by the Magisterium of the Church, such that its denial is not merely de facto heresy but public heresy, that is, heresy defined as such by the Church, and not merely by some persons’ interpretive opinion. Dogma is not merely “true interpretive opinion,” since opinion as such has no ecclesial authority, and binds no one to give assent to it. Rather, dogma has public ecclesial authority because it has been definitively declared to be such by persons having the ecclesial authority to bind all the faithful to assent to it. Dogma as such eliminates relativism about heresy (e.g. what’s orthodox by your interpretation is heretical by mine, and what’s heretical by your interpretation is heretical by mine, and there is no one authorized to adjudicate between us). And in that way dogma makes possible the preservation of “one faith” in the Church, rather than a myriad of different ‘faiths’ each segregated into their own particular sect.

    If we can understand the Scripture and they provide “motives of credibility” for Rome, then how can there be no dogma without her?

    Because for dogma, more than mere opinion is necessary; Church authority is necessary by which a doctrine is authoritatively defined and thereby elevated above the status of “that’s just your interpretation.”

    I think you’d be willing to grant that our theology ought to be biblical, but are you suggesting that without an interpreter we cannot reach theological conclusions?

    No, I’m surely not suggesting that. Hopefully what I’ve said above clarifies how there is a middle position between “the Bible is a black box” on the one hand, and “there is no need for a Magisterium” on the other.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

    Like

  193. Jeff,

    So when you say that “The motives of credibility show us by reason the divine authority of the Church”, I fully agree (that this is your position) and go one step further: to point out that the Catholic understanding of the divine authority of the church includes the five claims.

    It is when you go the “one step further” that you set up a straw man, because what you refer to as “the Catholic understanding of the divine authority of the church,” that is, as something that “includes” the five claims, is known only by faith, and is not “warranted” by the motives of credibility.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

    Like

  194. Bryan,

    If dogma is “divinely revealed doctrine” why is it not also infallible? If it’s divinely revealed how could it be fallible?

    If denial of dogma is “heresy” why is it not consistently punished with excommunication?

    Is the Catholic view of the sanctity of unborn human life dogma? If so, why would Catholic politicians who are pro choice not be excommunicated?

    Like

  195. Bryan: It is when you go the “one step further” that you set up a straw man, because what you refer to as “the Catholic understanding of the divine authority of the church,” that is, as something that “includes” the five claims, is known only by faith, and is not “warranted” by the motives of credibility.

    I believe you are mistaken. The CathEn says this in reference to the authority of the church as warranted by the motives of credibility:

    We find, moreover, that He founded a Church which should, so He said, continue to the end of time, which should serve as the repository of His teaching, and should be the means of applying to all men the fruits of the redemption He had wrought. When we come to the subsequent history of this Church we find it speedily spreading everywhere, and this in spite of its humble origin, its unworldly teaching, and the cruel persecution which it meets at the hands of the rulers of this world. And as the centuries pass we find this Church battling against heresies schisms, and the sins of her own people—nay, of her own rulers—and yet continuing ever the same, promulgating ever the same doctrine, and putting before men the same mysteries of the life, death and resurrection of the world’s Saviour, Who had, so she taught, gone before to prepare a home for those who while on earth should have believed in Him and fought the good fight….The Church which He founded must also be Divine and the repository and guardian of His teaching. Indeed, we can truly say that for every truth of Christianity which we believe Christ Himself is our testimony, and we believe in Him because the Divinity He claimed rests upon the concurrent testimony of His miracles, His prophecies, His personal character, the nature of His doctrine, the marvellous propagation of His teaching in spite of its running counter to flesh and blood, the united testimony of thousands of martyrs, the stories of countless saints who for His sake have led heroic lives, the history of the Church herself since the Crucifixion, and, perhaps more remarkable than any, the history of the papacy from St. Peter to Pius X.

    Claims (1) – (4) are right there, and (5) is implied in “the Church must the guardian and repository of His teaching.”

    If you would like to put forward a different understanding of what the Church claims for its own authority, that would be fine, and we could compare that understanding to the stated positions of the Church. But at this point, I see no reason to believe that the Church claims to authority, the ones it believes are warranted by the MoC, are any other than (1) – (5).

    Like

  196. Bryan,

    Your post above is, if I’ve counted correctly, the sixth time that you’ve tried to term my argument a “straw man.” And you’ve shifted ground at least three times, and until the most recent time, your responses indicated a faulty understanding of my argument.

    Now, I seem to hear you saying that the church does not attempt to persuade non-Catholics of (1) – (5) by means of the motives of credibility. This despite the fact that Catholic apologists attempt to do exactly that.

    If it is your argument that the church does not attempt to use the MoC to establish (1) – (5), you will need to provide something substantive to back it up. It is not enough to note that (1) – (5) are articles of faith.

    Like

  197. Jeff,

    Claims (1) – (4) are right there, …

    Those four claims have to do with the role and authority Christ gave to Peter. But the CE quotation does not refer to that, as though that can be known by the motives of credibility. Regarding Peter it refers only to the “history of the papacy from St. Peter to Pius X.” The history of the papacy is something accessible to reason, because it can be known through historical study. Even an atheist can know the history of the papacy from Peter to Pope Benedict XVI. But the particular role and authority Christ gave to Peter is something that can be known only by faith.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

    Like

  198. Jeff,

    I attempted to engage Bryan on his point, and show him the source of your five questions, but I stopped a bit shorter than where you have. I think you push too far in citing the following:

    “The Church which He founded must also be Divine and the repository and guardian of His teaching. Indeed, we can truly say that for every truth of Christianity which we believe Christ Himself is our testimony, and we believe in Him because the Divinity He claimed rests upon the concurrent testimony of His miracles, His prophecies, His personal character, the nature of His doctrine, the marvellous propagation of His teaching in spite of its running counter to flesh and blood, the united testimony of thousands of martyrs, the stories of countless saints who for His sake have led heroic lives, the history of the Church herself since the Crucifixion, and, perhaps more remarkable than any, the history of the papacy from St. Peter to Pius X.”

    I think MOC ends here: “The Church which He founded must also be Divine and the repository and guardian of His teaching.” Everything after this statement is predicated upon the verb “believe” which then points in the direction of “faith.” So I think Bryan’s objection stands with regards to his appeal to various articles of faith, but I think your initial argument, in substance (though the particulars–with Peter, etc.–I think, go into articles of faith), is spot-on. You just have to stop with: “The Church which He founded must also be Divine and the repository and guardian of His teaching.” This phrase and whatever it entails (though what it entails may be articles of faith) is clearly part of MOC.

    Try as I might to engage Bryan on substantive issues, we can never get past the practice of philosophy. Some day he will abandon his grad. school habits and engage people with where they are, on their own terms, until some true impasse arises. Until then, all we get is variations on the practice of philosophy. I really like reading Alasdair Macintyre and appreciate so much of his project. But good, lord, a rigid application does very little for dialogue.

    Me: B16.
    Bryan: Miss.
    Me: H1
    Bryan: Miss
    Me: P9
    Bryan: Miss
    Me: L2
    Bryan: Miss

    Like

  199. Bryan,

    Thank you for your reply. I sense that we are beginning to engage in earnest.

    If I understand your objection, you are saying that articles (1) – (4) are articles of faith inasmuch as they refer specifically to Peter’s authority. The MoC meanwhile, as you have said, mere establish the “divine authority of the church.”

    But this is substantially odd, for the divine authority of the current church rests entirely upon the succession of the head of the church to Peter’s chair.

    So I have trouble understanding how one might “establish the divine authority of the church” without establishing Petrine succession and the foundation of the church upon Peter.

    And indeed, that is the tack that Catholic apologists take in defending the authority of the church.

    And further, seems to be the sense of the CathEn quote above, “that He founded a Church which should, so He said, continue to the end of time…”

    Could you clear up for us the difference between “establishing the divine authority of the church” and “establishing that the current RC church is the church that Christ founded”? This would seem to be a distinction without a difference, but perhaps you have one in mind.

    Like

  200. Bryan, the history of the popes is not as accessible as you say, at least the Roman Catholic telling. Why even John O’Malley admits that the evidence for Peter even being in Rome (not that he was a bishop there) is circumstantial.

    So once again your paradigms and logic compensate for history.

    Like

  201. Bryan: Regarding Peter it refers only to the “history of the papacy from St. Peter to Pius X.” The history of the papacy is something accessible to reason, because it can be known through historical study. Even an atheist can know the history of the papacy from Peter to Pope Benedict XVI. But the particular role and authority Christ gave to Peter is something that can be known only by faith.

    Now the Catholic Encyclopedia quote:

    “The Church which He founded must also be Divine and the repository and guardian of His teaching. Indeed, we can truly say that for every truth of Christianity which we believe Christ Himself is our testimony, and we believe in Him because the Divinity He claimed rests upon… the history of the papacy from St. Peter to Pius X..”

    Erik:

    Bryan’s explanation makes no sense. Clearly the Catholic Encyclopedia is linking the Catholic Church to Christ and linking Christ’s divinity to the history of the papacy. It even goes so far as to say that the history of the papacy is “perhaps more remarkable than any” of the other evidences that the article cites for Christ’s divinity.

    For Bryan to say that “the particular role and authority Christ gave to Peter is something that can be known only by faith” when the Catholic Encyclopedia article has just told us it can be known by reason is just not accurate.

    Like

  202. Justin,

    If your theory is correct, why are all of the things that are proceeded by “find” and “believe” all in the same paragraph (b)?

    And what does paragraph (c) begin with “(c) These testimonies are unanimous; they all point in one direction, they are of every age, they are clear and simple, and are within the grasp of the humblest intelligence. ”

    (c) makes no distinction between the assertions in the first half of paragraph (b) and the assertions in the second half of paragraph (b).

    I think “find” and “believe” are synonyms.

    Like

  203. The trick for Bryan is he can’t embrace fideism because Rome has condemned it. He has to show that Catholicism is reasonable. He also won’t admit that the Catholic truth claims are circular. To the dispassionate observer, however, certain tenets that pre-modern Catholics claimed to be “reasonable” on their face are no longer reasonable to the modern mind unless once first accepts the authority of the Catholic church. Jeff and I won’t just let him off easy.

    Like

  204. Bryan,

    In case my question above is unclear (and I certainly am capable of being unclear), let me put it another way. The CathEn refers to the New Testament and “the history of the church” as motives of credibility to establish that

    We find, moreover, that (1) He founded a Church which should, so He said, continue to the end of time, which should serve as the repository of His teaching, and should be the means of applying to all men the fruits of the redemption He had wrought. When we come to the subsequent history of this Church we find it (2) speedily spreading everywhere, and this in spite of its humble origin, its unworldly teaching, and the cruel persecution which it meets at the hands of the rulers of this world. And as the centuries pass we find (3) this Church battling against heresies schisms, and the sins of her own people—nay, of her own rulers—and yet (4) continuing ever the same, promulgating ever the same doctrine, and putting before men the same mysteries of the life, death and resurrection of the world’s Saviour, Who had, so she taught, gone before to prepare a home for those who while on earth should have believed in Him and fought the good fight… (5) The Church which He founded must also be Divine and the repository and guardian of His teaching

    The numbered points are the specific claims made about the authority of “the church.”

    Here’s the problem: How does one know that “the church” is in fact the Roman Catholic Church? It would seem to me that one would require Petrine succession to be able to point to the RCC and say, “This Church is the one that Jesus was talking about.”

    As you are contemplating this, note the continuation of the article:

    And, as the Vatican Council has said, “the Church herself, is, by her marvellous propagation, her wondrous sanctity, her inexhaustible fruitfulness in good works, her Catholic unity, and her enduring stability, a great and perpetual motive of credibility and an irrefragable witness to her Divine commission” (Const. Dei Filius) .

    Are you able to see the circularity here? The Vatican Council decrees that the Church’s Catholic unity *is* a great and perpetual motive of credibility.

    Of what does that unity consist? Certainly not that all Christians are within her pale! Rather, what Vat I refers to by “unity” is Catholics underneath the authority of Peter’s Chair:

    This Church constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him,(13*) although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure. These elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward catholic unity …

    So likewise the new Israel which while living in this present age goes in search of a future and abiding city (97) is called the Church of Christ.(98) For He has bought it for Himself with His blood,(99) has filled it with His Spirit and provided it with those means which befit it as a visible and social union. God gathered together as one all those who in faith look upon Jesus as the author of salvation and the source of unity and peace, and established them as the Church that for each and all it may be the visible sacrament of this saving unity.

    — lumen gentium

    Here we see the circularity very clearly! The Church’s unity is a “great and perpetual motive of credibility”; but the Church’s unity is defined by the Church.

    Like

  205. Jeff, “the Church herself, is, by her marvellous propagation, her wondrous sanctity, her inexhaustible fruitfulness in good works, her Catholic unity, and her enduring stability, a great and perpetual motive of credibility and an irrefragable witness to her Divine commission.” This is like historian being the judge of his book for the Pulitzer Prize. The very interest of a church judging itself defies credibility. But it does show why reform is so hard for Rome.

    Like

  206. D.G./Jeff – It kind of reminds me of the Obama’s declaring that “we are the change we have been waiting for!”

    When I get that excited about someone winning an election, please shoot me.

    I want to see how excited all those young people are when they see how expensive the health insurance policy that they will be forced to buy next year is…

    Like

  207. DGH: Exactly. The mental image that drives my argument is one of a self-calibrating machine, a device that uses its own current state (and not external data) to calibrate itself.

    Like

  208. Jeff,

    Are you able to see the circularity here? The Vatican Council decrees that the Church’s Catholic unity *is* a great and perpetual motive of credibility.

    Again, this is a circularity of your own making. In the comments above, I gave the example of God’s existence. God’s existence can be known by reason alone. God’s existence is also taught by the Church. But the fact that the Church teaches God’s existence does not make the argument [from premises accessible to reason alone] to God’s existence circular. That argument does not depend on the Church saying anything at all. Nor does the argument’s being non-circular require that the Church remain mute about the existence of God. So likewise, here you are misreading and misinterpreting the statement in the CE article. Just because the Vatican Council says that that the Church’s unity is a great motive of credibility, that does not mean that the only way that reason can know this unity as a motive of credibility is through the teaching of the Church. What’s tripping you up here, repeatedly, is a deficiency of charity toward the Church, just as Dawkins’ lack of charity toward Christianity makes him almost incapable of grasping how anyone can even believe it. The greater the absence of charity toward the Church, the greater the likelihood of misconstruing and distorting her words, and repeatedly creating straw men.

    I have a pressing publishing deadline forthcoming, so unfortunately I don’t have the time to continue the conversation for now.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

    Like

  209. Bryan, what could be better evidence of circularity than your rejection of Jeff’s claims by attributing them to a lack of charity for the church? If Jeff has proper charity he’ll interpret the article correctly. So his reason depends on his love. That is not logical. The logic depends on something extra to the propositions.

    I think you are so wound up in circles that you don’t see how fideistic you sound.

    Like

  210. Darryl, more bingo. But I wish I could use this logic with my wife: if you loved me more you’d see how right I am and how dreadfully wrong you are. But she’s way too Protestant, I guess.

    Like

  211. Bryan, I like it. You’re a roman apologist who engages in a polemical way towards the claims of protestantism, but protestants engaging in a polemical way as regards the claims of Rome, renders their conclusions strawmen because they engage the ‘paradigm’ of Rome in a polemical way. Do you deal off the bottom as well. What a beaut.

    Like

  212. Darryl,

    So his reason depends on his love. That is not logical.

    I don’t know why you think the dependency of reason on love is not logical, because you don’t give any reason to believe that the influence of love on reason is illogical. I’ve written a post precisely on the relation of truth and charity, titled “Truth Speaks in Love.” The fact that love (and hatred) affect our apprehensions, our judgments, and our reasoning, does not make logic superfluous or ever rightly violable.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

    Like

  213. Darryl, everything that comes to mind about that possibility seems……….uncharitable. Now, if I pull that nonsense with my wife, it’s: ” Let me tell you a few things about you that YOU don’t know.” ‘cept it’s more a look than an utterance, funny, I swear I hear it just the same.

    Like

  214. With some of this stuff I think Bryan is a smart guy who has been dealt a bad hand and he’s playing it the best he can. Just as nagging doubts about the “Protestant paradigm” eventually got the best of him (and, more recently, Stellman), perhaps we have created some nagging doubts that will do the same eventually with his Catholic paradigm. These things don’t happen overnight, though. There’s a time to make arguments and a time to be gracious.

    Like

  215. Keeping the familial analogy going, is Bryan’s love and logic angle the ecclesiastical version of a mother lording it over and exasperating her children, or a husband his wife and kids? It’s hard to see how an authoritarian system naturally gets around this inevitability.

    Like

  216. Bryan, but you never said that the rules of logic and straw men needed to exist in the context of charity. That’s certainly not what they teach in logic classes. You look at the terms, propositions, and deductions. Which is always what you do when you interact with me. But you don’t read what I write charitably. If you did, then you’d agree with me.

    Why not stick to your claim that you have logic on your side (even though it’s logic that flies by faith)?

    Like

  217. Darryl,

    Pretty close to the same cap even. Just more modern. Probably a Vat II accommodation that Bryan rescued from the “lost generation”.

    Like

  218. Darryl,

    Bryan, but you never said that the rules of logic and straw men needed to exist in the context of charity. That’s certainly not what they teach in logic classes.

    In the context of formal logic alone, that’s true. But the role of virtue and charity in communication is something we teach in the trivium and in ethics.

    You look at the terms, propositions, and deductions. Which is always what you do when you interact with me.

    True.

    But you don’t read what I write charitably.

    Logical fallacies are not deficiencies in charity on the part of the reader, but if you find that I am repeatedly either misunderstanding you or misconstruing your position, then it may be the case that I’m reading what you are saying without sufficient charity. Logic without love is powerless, but love without logic is vacuous. So both must be held together.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

    Like

  219. God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in times past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by the glorious magisterium, with the pope as its apex, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, through whom also he rules the worlds…

    Is this not what CTC is suggesting? An adulteration of scripture if there ever was one.

    Exactly B, the Magisterium is the College of (Performative) Apostles.
    There is a one to one correspondence between Jesus = Apostles = Roman Bishop(s).

    Likewise the Roman church can be shoehorned into WCF 1:4&5

    IV. The authority of the Magisterium, for which it ought to be believed and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any paradigm, or Churchman; but wholly upon the Magisterium (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received because it’s all about the Word of the Magisterium.

    V. We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the Pope and Tradition to a high and reverent esteem of the Magisterium. And the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of its doctrine, the majesty of its overbearing style, the unanimous consent of all the parts of its papal bulls, the kaleido-scope of the whole (which is, to give all glory to the Magisterium), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man’s salvation from purgatory, the many other incomparable, but fully compatible excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof, are ad hoc arguments whereby it doth abundantly evidence itself to be the Magisterium: yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Tradition bearing witness by and with the Sacrament in our hearts.

    As to whether Bryan will performatively do justice in examining, as he puts it: “how the Catholic paradigm. . . makes sense of all the available historical, biblical, patristic, and philosophical data, in relation to the other available paradigms”, is, in our fallible opinion, a foregone conclusion.

    After all, he has also told us that Sola Scriptura amounts to drawing a target around the arrow after you shot it.

    As if Romanists can put William Tell to shame and never miss shooting themselves at the very same time they skewer protestantism. Go figure.

    But never forget Rome is infallible, because Rome says so.

    Like

  220. From the Catholic Encyclopedia: “The Church which He founded must also be Divine and the repository and guardian of His teaching. Indeed, we can truly say that for every truth of Christianity which we believe Christ Himself is our testimony, and we believe in Him because the Divinity He claimed rests upon… the history of the papacy from St. Peter to Pius X..”

    From this week’s “Wall Street Journal”:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324162304578303982099253060.html

    When Picking a Pope Was a Perilous Affair – For Much of Church history, the Selection of a New Pope Meant Corruption and Conflict

    By Eamon Duffy

    The conclave that assembles at the Vatican on March 15 will be the first for six centuries to elect a pope while his predecessor is alive. With 118 names to choose from and no obvious front-runner (as yet), the outcome is impossible to predict. But we can be sure that the pope will be chosen from the cardinals themselves.

    For much of the Church’s history, not even that much has been certain. The cardinals didn’t become the normal papal electors until the mid-11th century, and the first formal conclave wasn’t held until 1241. The word “conclave” itself means “with a key,” a reference to the policy of locking the dithering cardinals up in squalid conditions to focus their minds and encourage a speedy outcome.

    For more than a thousand years, however, the papal electors were the whole clergy and people of Rome. As a result, most of the early popes were celebrities from local aristocratic families, often career administrators among the deacons of Rome, the clerical rank responsible for most papal business.

    In these early elections, priests were seldom chosen, and bishops of other dioceses hardly ever, since a bishop was thought to be “married” to his see for life. Papal elections might be sudden or protracted, and election by “acclamation” wasn’t uncommon. A likely candidate might be seized by the crowd during the previous pope’s funeral and rushed off to church to be consecrated.

    Unsurprisingly, corruption and conflict were common features of papal appointments. Rival claimants brought confusion over who was the “real” and who the “antipope.” But negotiated solutions could produce unpleasant surprises.

    In 686, Rome was deadlocked over the choice of a pope, the clergy promoting their own man, the local militia insisting on another. The standoff was resolved by the election of an elderly nonentity, Pope Conon, a Sicilian priest whose father had been a famous general, so he was acceptable to both sides. He proved to be a disaster, dimwitted and ineffective, and too old and ill for even routine duties.

    But the popes weren’t always elected. Ninth- and 10th-century Rome was run by Mafia-style noble families, who appointed the popes from their own kindred. The notorious Marozia Theophylact appointed three popes, including John XI (931-935), her bastard son by her lover Pope Sergius III. Her legitimate son, Prince Alberic II, appointed five popes, including his bastard son Octavian, “elected” Pope John XII in 955 at the age of 18, dead of a stroke at the age of 27, from his exertions, it was claimed, in the bed of a married woman.

    The popes appointed by the German Holy Roman Emperor Henry III in the early 11th century were equally unconventional but far more edifying. Determined to purge the corruptions of Rome, Henry personally appointed four outstanding popes, reformers to a man, all of them Germans. The greatest of them, St. Leo IX (1049-1054), arrived in Rome as a barefoot pilgrim and was the first pope to travel widely through Europe, stirring local bishops to tackle corruption and undertake renewal.

    Henry III’s German popes ended the tradition that the Bishop of Rome had to be a local man, and medieval conclaves chose popes from the small but international College of Cardinals. Exceptions to this rule were seldom a success.

    The most notorious case was St. Celestine V (1294), an 85-year-old hermit and visionary from Naples chosen in the hope that an “angelic Pope” would free the papacy from its financial and political entanglements. But the old man was hopelessly incompetent and easily swayed by forceful politicians. After only six months, he was badgered into resigning by Cardinal Benedetto Caetani, who succeeded him as Boniface VIII and promptly imprisoned him.

    The experiment of electing a non-cardinal was tried again in 1378. After a run of seven French popes based in Avignon, the Roman mob demanded an Italian. Sixteen terrified cardinals obliged by electing Urban VI. A distinguished administrator as Archbishop of Bari, Urban VI was unhinged by his elevation. Aggressively paranoid, he alienated all supporters and appears to have murdered five of his cardinals. The French cardinals elected a rival pope, who returned to Avignon, starting a schism that would last a generation.

    Catholics like to think of Papal elections as the work of the Holy Spirit. History suggests a more complicated picture, with no guarantee of a godly outcome. The cardinals in March will need information and common sense, at least as much as divine inspiration. We must hope they prepare themselves well, and don’t try too hard to surprise.

    Mr. Duffy is professor of the history of Christianity at the University of Cambridge and the author of “Saints and Sinners,” a history of the papacy.

    Like

  221. Bryan,

    I wish you well with your publication. May God guide you in all truth.

    Now, you said,

    But the fact that the Church teaches God’s existence does not make the argument [from premises accessible to reason alone] to God’s existence circular. That argument does not depend on the Church saying anything at all. Nor does the argument’s being non-circular require that the Church remain mute about the existence of God. So likewise, here you are misreading and misinterpreting the statement in the CE article. Just because the Vatican Council says that that the Church’s unity is a great motive of credibility, that does not mean that the only way that reason can know this unity as a motive of credibility is through the teaching of the Church.

    This response indicates that you are still not properly understanding the argument.

    There is obviously no circularity involved in arguing from, say, evidence to God’s existence.

    Nor would there be circularity if the term “unity” were clearly defined in a neutral fashion, and the historical evidence were then used to show that the Catholic Church in fact has that unity.

    But now, what is the unity that is evidenced for the Catholic Church? It is clearly not that the Catholic Church is unified with all Christians. Nor that the Catholic church has continued throughout history without divisions. The normal senses of the word “unity” do not apply.

    No, the unity of the Catholic Church is defined by the Church as unity under the teaching of the chair of Peter. This is the unity that is claimed to be demonstrated by the historical evidence.

    You said as much to Brandon.

    If by “substantiates the claims of Rome” you mean identifies the Church Christ founded as the Catholic Church, consisting of all the particular Churches in communion with the bishop of Rome, then yes.

    There is obviously circularity involved in first, defining the term “unity” to have a particular meaning favorable to the Church — namely, submission to the pope — and then showing that the Catholic church uniquely has that unity. Accepting this claim would be resting on a fallacy, since one must first grant that the Church has the authority to define what unity means (unity under the Bishop of Rome), before one can accept that the historical evidence shows the enduring unity of the Church.

    In fact, the circularity we are talking about is a formal fallacy that you are probably familiar with. It is the No True Scotsman fallacy, which the Wiki gives a nice description of:

    No true Scotsman is an informal fallacy, an ad hoc attempt to retain an unreasoned assertion. When faced with a counterexample to a universal claim, rather than denying the counterexample or rejecting the original universal claim, this fallacy modifies the subject of the assertion to exclude the specific case or others like it by rhetoric, without reference to any specific objective rule.

    I would suggest that you have been operating in exactly this manner. I presented the Catholic claims to authority (which are clearly the Catholic claims, since they come from the catechism). I showed that those claims cannot be sustained without appeal to Catholic teaching.

    Your response was to assert that those are not the Catholic claims to authority that are warranted by the MoC.

    Alright, I asked, then what are the Catholic claims to authority that are warranted by the MoC? This was the “question-mode” you said you desired.

    No response to that question.

    Your defense to my argument lacks any sort of specific description of what the Catholic claims to authority are that are different from the ones I listed from an official source of Catholic teaching.

    If the discussion can advance, there must be some detail on the table that clearly indicates what the Catholic claims to authority are, and that clearly indicates how the MoC substantiate those claims.

    Until then, I maintain that your defense is a No True Scotsman fallacy. The “strawman” assertions have not provided the clear, objective rule needed to actually refute my argument.

    Grace and peace,
    Jeff

    Like

  222. Logic doesn’t need charity? The principle of charity was a very early concept that we discussed in logic class (taught by an atheist prof!); it is essential to understand the other person without uselessly nitpicking.
    Doesn’t this sound familiar? “Say you’re arguing with someone and there is a flaw in their reasoning, but you also know that their argument could be reformulated to avoid that flaw. If you attack their argument as is, you’ll either win a hollow victory with an argument that you know is faulty or you’ll just prolong the debate as your opponent makes the obvious adjustment. It’s the kind of thing you do when you’re more interested in scoring cheap debating points than actually advancing the sum total of human understanding.”
    http://fishbowl.pastiche.org/2009/10/20/the_principle_of_charity_2/

    Like

  223. Eamon Duffy? Hmm.
    Sounds performatively Irish, which is also probably fully compatible with the No True Scotsman paradigm, if not the shanty Irish for which a seven course meal means a sixpack and a potato.
    Obviously not the kind or type that belongs to the exclusive CtC set, the more respectable lace curtain variety of Romanism contra Ephesians 5:13:

    But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.

    Or Titus 1:16:

    They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.

    IOW not all the sinners that became pope were saints. Rather they were ‘aints however faint the CtC testimony and obscured view of history from behind those genteel curtains.

    Like

  224. Joel:

    There’s an ambiguity afoot. The principle of “charity” in philosophy means that you make every effort to read your opponent correctly and to address the substance of his argument and not peripheral issues. This we all hope to achieve.

    The “charity” Bryan refers to has to do with his ad-hominem contention that I am being blinded or confused by antipathy towards the RC Church. That is, he believes I lack charity in the Biblical sense of the term. Besides being untrue, the ad hominem is not particularly helpful in resolving the issue between us.

    From my side of the table, my arguments are clear and cogent, and his own position is confused.

    Like

  225. Or put another way: “Charity” in philosophy need not be motivated by love. It might simply be motivated by a desire to be well-regarded, to be known as a purveyor of good arguments.

    Actual charity, from the heart, wants the best for one’s opponents.

    Like

  226. Jeff,

    No, the unity of the Catholic Church is defined by the Church as unity under the teaching of the chair of Peter. This is the unity that is claimed to be demonstrated by the historical evidence…. There is obviously circularity involved in first, defining the term “unity” to have a particular meaning favorable to the Church — namely, submission to the pope — and then showing that the Catholic church uniquely has that unity. Accepting this claim would be resting on a fallacy, since one must first grant that the Church has the authority to define what unity means (unity under the Bishop of Rome), before one can accept that the historical evidence shows the enduring unity of the Church.

    Once again, your claim mistakenly presupposes that if the Church authoritatively defines the doctrine concerning the Church’s unity, then this unity can be discovered only by first relying on the Church’s authority. But this unity can be discovered by reason alone, just as God’s existence can be discovered by reason alone. So the circularity charge is based on a straw man.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

    Like

  227. Bryan’s comment reminds me of a Confederate soldier sneaking back onto the Gettysburg battlefield a week after the fighting has ended, dismounting from his horse, waving his sword in the air, getting back on his horse, declaring victory, and riding away.

    Like

  228. Bryan, but reason alone can discover the circularity of your argument (see, no charity needed), so it must be circular.

    Why is it always with you “heads, I have reason, tails, you use the wrong paradigm.” This game is fixed.

    Like

  229. Bryan: Once again, your claim mistakenly presupposes that if the Church authoritatively defines the doctrine concerning the Church’s unity, then this unity can be discovered only by first relying on the Church’s authority.

    Show where I make this presupposition. Once again, you are misreading the argument.

    Like

  230. Bryan,

    My comment above is probably too brusque to be helpful. Here’s what I’m saying: I did not say and do not believe that, once defined, “unity” can only be discovered by relying on the Church. If you re-read my argument more carefully, it does not say what you said I said.

    Instead, I said that it is circular to accept the Church’s non-neutral definition of “unity” as the correct — you said ‘authoritative’, so we could go with that — definition of unity. The circularity occurs, as it almost always does, in the definition of terms.

    And in fact, you’ve made my point in spades by admitting that the Church’s argument begins by ‘authoritatively defining’ the doctrine concerning unity. If that’s our starting point for the investigation, then we have relied on the authority of the Church at the very beginning.

    Again: If you want to show (rather than merely assert) that my argument is a straw man, then you will have to lay out the Catholic claims to authority so that we can all see whether or not they are the same as (1) – (5).

    The only hint you have provided is that the Church defines the unity of the Church as “communion with the bishop of Rome”, which is simply (1) repackaged.

    So far, there has been assertion without demonstration. We’re on seven “straw-mans”, and I hope the count can stabilize there.

    Like

  231. Jeff,

    And in fact, you’ve made my point in spades by admitting that the Church’s argument begins by ‘authoritatively defining’ the doctrine concerning unity. If that’s our starting point for the investigation, then we have relied on the authority of the Church at the very beginning.

    I agree that *if* that were the starting point of the investigation, that would be relying on the authority of the Church at the very beginning. However, the argument from the motives of credibility does not begin with the Church “authoritatively defining” any doctrine, let alone a doctrine concerning unity. The motives of credibility do not depend on the authority of the Church, or on her authoritative definitions concerning the Church’s unity. To claim otherwise is, once again, to set up a straw man.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

    Like

  232. Bryan, no one who does not accept the authority of Rome finds the motives of credibility reasonable. You have made up a world of reason and artificially separated it from the claims of Rome.

    The more you explain, the more fideistic you sound.

    Like

  233. Bryan,

    You’re certainly entitled to begin your investigation whereever you like.

    So where would you like to begin? What are the claims to authority that can be warranted by the motives of credibility?

    Like

  234. Darryl,

    Bryan, no one who does not accept the authority of Rome finds the motives of credibility reasonable.

    Instead of falling into the “no true Scotsman” fallacy, you should state which of the motives of credibility you think are not reasonable, and explain why you think them to be unreasonable.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

    Like

  235. Bryan, this one is not credible apart from faith: “The Church which He founded must also be Divine and the repository and guardian of His teaching.”

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s